Articles related to Jim Evans, Politics, Theology, Evangelicals, Conservatives


Why Today's U.S. Conservative Christianity is Really Liberal
Why Today's U.S. Conservative Christianity is Really Liberal

By: Roger Olson
Here's one of the greatest ironies of contemporary American Christianity: What we typically call "conservative Christianity" is really a form of liberal Christianity.

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When Your Faith Aligns Too Closely with Your Politics
When Your Faith Aligns Too Closely with Your Politics

By: David Swartz
Subscribing to a political party traps you in a closed system. Christian activists on both sides are complicit in demonizing the enemy, which undermines the message of the very gospel they desire to advance.

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What Happens to Ethics in a Strong Political Wind?
What Happens to Ethics in a Strong Political Wind?

By: Colin Harris
The intensity of our current political climate allows truthful and more complete information to be replaced by propaganda. Misinformation becomes the wind that blows the weather vane of ethics in all directions.

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Should Pastors Endorse Presidential Candidates?
Should Pastors Endorse Presidential Candidates?

By: Brian Kaylor
Christians do not owe their chief loyalty to either political party. By publicly endorsing a candidate, pastors will tie their own credibility - and their churches' credibility and witness - to what that candidate says or does.

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Key Moral Issues Arise in Democratic Platform
Key Moral Issues Arise in Democratic Platform

By: Brian Kaylor
During this week's Democratic National Convention, delegates passed the final version of the Democratic platform, which clashes at times with positions of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

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Key Moral Issues Arise in GOP Platform
Key Moral Issues Arise in GOP Platform

By: Brian Kaylor
As the GOP holds its national convention this week and Democrats are set for next week, both parties will hash out language for their platforms, which can impact those parties and public policy decisions.

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Trump's Meeting with Conservative Christians Sparks Definitional Issues
Trump's Meeting with Conservative Christians Sparks Definitional Issues

By: Brian Kaylor
Addressing Christian pastors and leaders in New York City, Donald Trump made the pitch for why Christians should vote for him in November.

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Southern Baptists Ding Obama, Discuss 'Elephant in the Room'
Southern Baptists Ding Obama, Discuss 'Elephant in the Room'

By: Brian Kaylor
President Barack Obama was criticized and presidential candidate Donald Trump was subtly promoted during the recent annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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How Christians Can Change Culture. (Hint: It's Not Politics)
How Christians Can Change Culture. (Hint: It's Not Politics)

By: Thomas Kidd
Culture is extraordinarily complex and not susceptible to quick change, especially through politics. While evangelicals can participate in politics, we must remember that politics simply reflects culture.

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Trump, Cruz Tied Among Evangelical Voters
Trump, Cruz Tied Among Evangelical Voters

By: Brian Kaylor
The media suggest GOP frontrunner Donald Trump is big with evangelicals. Voting data reveals Trump is merely tied with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz within the critical Republican voting bloc.

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Evangelicals Minimally Engaged in Presidential Campaign
Evangelicals Minimally Engaged in Presidential Campaign

By: EthicsDaily Staff
Despite significant focus by media outlets on the importance of gaining the evangelical vote, U.S. evangelicals are minimally engaged in this year's presidential campaign.

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Evangelicals in Middle America Less Supportive of Trump
Evangelicals in Middle America Less Supportive of Trump

By: Brian Kaylor
As Donald Trump moves closer to the GOP presidential nomination, news continues to focus on his support from evangelical Christians. However, Midwest evangelicals aren't riding the Trump bandwagon.

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Church Attendance as Antidote to Donald Trump
Church Attendance as Antidote to Donald Trump

By: Brian Kaylor
While Donald Trump dominates among most voters, a soft spot in his support emerges when comparing voters by church attendance rates. People who attend church frequently remain much less likely to back Trump.

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Nationalist Religions Reinforce Tribal Pride, Quell Fears
Nationalist Religions Reinforce Tribal Pride, Quell Fears

By: Joe LaGuardia
A variety of nationalist religions are on the rise around the globe. In the wake of increasing regional tensions, people turn to religions that reinforce tribal pride and quell fears regarding economic inequality.

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4 Steps on How Pastors Should Handle Politics in Pulpit
4 Steps on How Pastors Should Handle Politics in Pulpit

By: Barry Howard
The pulpit is a place to accent the privilege and responsibility of choosing our leaders, not a place to dictate the decision. Here are four steps for pastors who want to encourage good citizenship from the pulpit.

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Dueling Narratives Seek to Define Our Culture
Dueling Narratives Seek to Define Our Culture

By: Colin Harris
Our society is defined by dueling narratives, with each side fighting to control their message. The volume and intensity of this struggle are greater than ever, but the struggle has been around a long time.

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The Dangers When Ministers Endorse Presidential Hopefuls
The Dangers When Ministers Endorse Presidential Hopefuls

By: Danny Chisholm
Ministers create inherent dangers when they endorse presidential candidates. It sets ministers up for disappointment, confuses and alienates laity and exaggerates pastors' influence.

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Don't Let Extremists Hijack 'Evangelical' Label
Don't Let Extremists Hijack 'Evangelical' Label

By: Roger Olson
Some equate "American evangelicalism" with a far right-wing political movement, but many evangelicals don't identify with or participate in the Religious Right or fundamentalist theology.

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Should Christian Leaders Endorse Candidates?
Should Christian Leaders Endorse Candidates?

By: Dennis Bickers
Pastors have an obligation to address moral and social issues that may be hot topics in the political arena, but endorsing a political party or a particular leader crosses the line.

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'Curse of Perfectionism' Dooms Political Process
'Curse of Perfectionism' Dooms Political Process

By: Zach Dawes
The demand for perfect adherence to a particular faction's ideology is having a detrimental impact not only on the political processes, but also on other societal institutions, including the local church.

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Iowa Evangelicals Answered Call to
Iowa Evangelicals Answered Call to "Elect a President Who Will Lead in Godly Ways"

By: Brian Kaylor
A blizzard of evangelical voters carried Texas Sen. Ted Cruz to an upset victory over business mogul Donald Trump in Iowa's Republican caucus.

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Iowa Caucuses Today; Here's How the Process Works
Iowa Caucuses Today; Here's How the Process Works

By: EthicsDaily.com Staff
How does an Iowa caucus work? What role does faith play in the caucus process? EthicsDaily.com contributing editor Brian Kaylor, who witnessed the GOP caucuses in 2008, explains in a new EthicsDaily.com video.

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My 'Endorsement' for 2016's Presidential Election
My 'Endorsement' for 2016's Presidential Election

By: Matt Sapp
The presidential race turns to a new chapter today as the Iowa caucus kicks off primary season. Here are four things pastors and laity need to do as we consider which candidates get our votes.

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Evangelical Leaders Call for Biblical Approach to Immigration
Evangelical Leaders Call for Biblical Approach to Immigration

By: EthicsDaily Staff
Thirty-two Iowa pastors and a handful of national leaders have informed the 2016 presidential candidates that evangelical voters "are looking for a biblical approach regarding immigrants and immigration."

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10 Qualities for Our Nation's Next President
10 Qualities for Our Nation's Next President

By: Terry Austin
What personal traits and skills are important for the next president of the United States? No matter what their political party, we need someone with the qualities to identify the best approach to the issues.

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Who Will Win Iowa? What Will It Mean for U.S. Christianity?
Who Will Win Iowa? What Will It Mean for U.S. Christianity?

By: Robert Parham
On Feb. 1, the question everyone is asking will be answered: Who will win Iowa? Embedded in the question for Christians is: What will it mean for the future of American Christianity?

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U.S. Evangelicals in Paris Reflect on Climate Talks
U.S. Evangelicals in Paris Reflect on Climate Talks

By: Brian Kaylor
U.S. evangelicals who traveled to Paris for the COP21 United Nations climate conference will return home soon and help explain to fellow evangelicals the importance of climate change.

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Christians in Paris Urge Climate Action for Vulnerable Global Neighbors
Christians in Paris Urge Climate Action for Vulnerable Global Neighbors

By: Brian Kaylor
Not relying on the scientists and diplomats, evangelicals are speaking up in Paris about the impact of climate change on the poor and most vulnerable.

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Is the Church in the Middle East on Life Support? Part 2
Is the Church in the Middle East on Life Support? Part 2

By: Martin Accad
With the church in the Middle East on life support, the solution is not to fan fears of Islam and Muslims and develop strategies of war against them. Rather, the transformation must start from within.

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Evangelicals Meet in Paris, Consider Biblical Call on Climate Change
Evangelicals Meet in Paris, Consider Biblical Call on Climate Change

By: Brian Kaylor
More than 100 evangelicals from several countries and denominations gathered in Paris to worship, learn and dialogue about how they should respond to climate change.

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Is the Church in the Middle East on Life Support? Part 1
Is the Church in the Middle East on Life Support? Part 1

By: Martin Accad
The church of the Middle East is on life support, and fingers regularly point at Islam as the cause of its demise. Under such circumstances, how do you prepare future leaders for the Arab church?

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How Islamophobia Hurts America
How Islamophobia Hurts America

By: Martin Brooks
The polarization between the Muslim and Christian communities is doing great harm to our nation and to our Christian witness. And many churches respond with fear instead of Christ's love.

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Lessons in Leadership from the Political Process
Lessons in Leadership from the Political Process

By: Guy Sayles
Our political process offers many valuable - albeit negative - lessons for church leaders. However, politics does teach us the importance of fashioning networks and coalitions, all for the common good.

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Evangelicals, Muslims Commit to Mutual Peace
Evangelicals, Muslims Commit to Mutual Peace

By: Rick Love
Evangelical pastors and Muslim imams declared their commitment to making peace with one another, but some evangelicals uphold Jesus' exclusive truth claims without upholding his inclusive love aims.

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Prosperity Gospel: A Valid Evangelical Option? Part 2
Prosperity Gospel: A Valid Evangelical Option? Part 2

By: Roger Olson
Evangelical leaders should take a strong public stand and reject the prosperity gospel as non-evangelical. It turns God into a cosmic slot machine and distorts prayer into magic.

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Prosperity Gospel: A Valid Evangelical Option? Part 1
Prosperity Gospel: A Valid Evangelical Option? Part 1

By: Roger Olson
Across the U.S. and throughout the world, certain evangelists and pastors promote the Prosperity Gospel as their primary theme. Many adherents claim they're evangelicals. But is that valid?

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Shaping Theological Ideas to Meet Daily Life's Needs
Shaping Theological Ideas to Meet Daily Life's Needs

By: Zach Dawes
To ensure a vibrant Christian witness, academic theologians and congregational ministers must continually work together to bridge the gap between doctrine and daily life.

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How Evangelicals Abandoned Organized Labor
How Evangelicals Abandoned Organized Labor

By: Heath W. Carter
These are the worst times for organized labor, represented by only 7 percent of private sector workers. But you'd be hard-pressed to find evangelicals making this an election-year issue. That wasn't always the case.

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Corrie ten Boom, Chocolate and Dogmatic Debates
Corrie ten Boom, Chocolate and Dogmatic Debates

By: Heather Skull
When a discussion about religious dogma takes over from the practical application of faith, something's gone wrong. Corrie ten Boom once illustrated this point with a gift of chocolate.

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Blunt Political Rhetoric Entertains But Does it Help?
Blunt Political Rhetoric Entertains But Does it Help?

By: Colin Harris
Instead of providing substantive deliberation on important issues, our politicians increasingly rely on blunt and shocking remarks designed to give them a poll bump. But this 'politi-tainment' undermines our process.

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Presidential Candidates Battle for Godly Image
Presidential Candidates Battle for Godly Image

By: Brian Kaylor
Faith voters remain targeted by many presidential candidates. Many GOP candidates are courting conservative evangelicals while religious appeals are less frequent among candidates on the Democratic side.

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2 Cultural Blinders Worn by U.S. Evangelicals
2 Cultural Blinders Worn by U.S. Evangelicals

By: Thomas Kidd
We're constantly at risk of developing tunnel vision because of our culture. For U.S. evangelicals, the two greatest risks to biblical faithfulness are the prosperity gospel and the gospel of American patriotism.

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Southern Baptists Need to Keep Away from Party Politics
Southern Baptists Need to Keep Away from Party Politics

By: Thomas Kidd
Southern Baptists rescinded presidential hopeful Ben Carson's invitation to speak at their annual Pastors' Conference. Evangelicals need to stop platforming political candidates at denominational functions.

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Holding Elected Officials Accountable to Truth
Holding Elected Officials Accountable to Truth

By: Phil Jump
We expect our elected officials not only to demonstrate their own integrity, but also to oversee and regulate society in a way that sustains and promotes truth and honesty. Do they deliver?

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An Abuse Committed by Left and Right Ideologues
An Abuse Committed by Left and Right Ideologues

By: Roger Olson
People on the political and religious left and right do this all the time. It's so common we can be swayed by it even as we try to resist it. It should be called out. What is it?

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Israeli Election is Wake-Up Call to Church: Part 2
Israeli Election is Wake-Up Call to Church: Part 2

By: Azar Ajaj
While the church in Israel is doing a good job on the spiritual level by presenting the gospel, little has occurred on the social level and almost nothing on the political level. It's time to be a prophetic voice.

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Israeli Election is Wake-Up Call to Church: Part 1
Israeli Election is Wake-Up Call to Church: Part 1

By: Azar Ajaj
The events of the Israeli election are a wake-up call to the church in Israel, a challenge to become more effective in its mission. How can churches better serve Arab Israelis as well as the Israeli community?

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Presidential Campaigns Distract from Common Good
Presidential Campaigns Distract from Common Good

By: Robert Parham
Sen. Ted Cruz has officially kicked off the race for the presidency with his announcement this week. Sadly, presidential campaigns wash away efforts to advance the common good.

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Why Christians Can't Change Culture Through Politics
Why Christians Can't Change Culture Through Politics
By: Mike Kuhn
Whether on the right or left, Christians have not been effective in changing the culture because they have sought to do it through political power. To make a difference in the culture, we need a new paradigm.
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Why Creation Out of Nothing is Essential Doctrine
Why Creation Out of Nothing is Essential Doctrine
By: Roger Olson
While the doctrine of creation out of nothing is not directly taught in Scripture, it's an essential teaching. Without it, other revealed truths cannot be maintained or defended.
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Learning From Hymns When You Disagree with Lyrics
Learning From Hymns When You Disagree with Lyrics
By: Roger Olson
Worship planners and leaders must think of hymns as theological expressions and choose them with discernment, especially when the lyrics may be obscure to most people.
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Fear-Based Politics, Religion Run Counter to Gospel
Fear-Based Politics, Religion Run Counter to Gospel
By: Colin Harris
Exploiting fears has been a successful tool to manipulate people in politics and religion. While the religious crowd has put conjured fears to good use, hope – not fear – is the basis of Jesus' message.
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7 Bible Words for Evangelicals and Pentecostals
7 Bible Words for Evangelicals and Pentecostals
By: Robert Parham
Given the global growth and dynamism of evangelical and Pentecostal communities, it's vital to double up our efforts to engage them in climate change. Here are seven biblical words for those conversations.
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Evangelical Community in Syria and Lebanon Declares
Evangelical Community in Syria and Lebanon Declares "State of Emergency"
By: Robert Parham
Evangelical leaders in the Middle East have issued a "state of emergency," warning that the Christian presence there could be annihilated.
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How to Hijack a Religious Tradition
How to Hijack a Religious Tradition
By: Colin Harris
The priorities of the Religious Right and evangelicals have drifted far from their original roots. That's why it's always wise to be careful who you let tell you who you are.
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Report Critiques Theology of Corporate Money in Politics
Report Critiques Theology of Corporate Money in Politics
By: Brian Kaylor
A report challenged the influx of corporate money in U.S. political campaigns as harmful to democracy and the needs of the poor. But will anyone pay attention to it?
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Choosing What's Right Rather Than What's Expedient
Choosing What's Right Rather Than What's Expedient

By: Zach Dawes
When politicians base their decisions on what's politically expedient rather than what's the right thing to do, they may secure an election but they're abandoning the common good.

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Mixed Results 20 Years after Evangelical-Catholic Unity Effort
Mixed Results 20 Years after Evangelical-Catholic Unity Effort
By: Brian Kaylor
Prominent evangelicals and Catholics released a document 20 years ago articulating common ground between them, but their groundwork may have done more for politics than theology.
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Our Need to be Right Undercuts Theological Process
Our Need to be Right Undercuts Theological Process
By: Colin Harris
Rather than a fixed and final doctrine, theology is an ongoing and evolving process of refinement, but the need to be right is often more important than the desire to seek a clearer understanding of the truth.
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Do You Place Party Loyalty Before God's Kingdom?
Do You Place Party Loyalty Before God's Kingdom?

By: Guy Sayles
Our posturing and partisan name-calling on the national level make us forget our commonalities and magnify our differences. But Christians must place God's kingdom before party loyalties.

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Why Are Evangelicals Vulnerable to So-Called Experts?
Why Are Evangelicals Vulnerable to So-Called Experts?
By: Thomas Kidd
Instead of relying on pop experts, evangelicals could use more people who possess studied expertise in important subjects and are willing to communicate that expertise to a general audience.
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What's Out? What's In? 5 Evangelical Trends for 2014
What's Out? What's In? 5 Evangelical Trends for 2014
By: Chuck Warnock
What trends are going to influence the church in 2014? Check out one columnist's take on what 5 trends are going to be in and what 5 trends are going to be out this year.
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Unrelenting Politics Erodes Collaboration, Empathy
Unrelenting Politics Erodes Collaboration, Empathy
There has been little rest for the politically weary since the 2012 election. Our constant campaign mode constrains our ability to collaborate and shrinks our empathy for one another.
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Achieving Consensus: A Better Path Than Divisiveness
Achieving Consensus: A Better Path Than Divisiveness
As valid as criticism might be, throwing it out like gasoline on a fire isn't productive. We must set aside our own agendas and focus more on the larger context of needs afflicting the human family.
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Uncovering White Evangelical Obsession with Israel
Uncovering White Evangelical Obsession with Israel

Many evangelical Christians are politically obsessed with Israel, arguing that Israel is "the apple of God's eye" and, therefore, should be free to act in any way current leaders choose.

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Skype Interview: Mandy McMichael on Miss America
Skype Interview: Mandy McMichael on Miss America "Firsts"
The Miss America pageant crowned its first Indian-American winner Sunday night. Learn about this and other Miss America firsts in the new Skype interview from EthicsDaily.com.
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Skype Interview: Mandy McMichael on Beauty Pageants, Religion
Skype Interview: Mandy McMichael on Beauty Pageants, Religion
What's the relationship between religion and beauty pageants? An assistant professor and doctoral candidate shares her thoughts in a new Skype interview from EthicsDaily.com.
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Baptist Contribution to Understanding of Holy Spirit
Baptist Contribution to Understanding of Holy Spirit
Baptists have historically focused on the person and work of Christ and largely undervalued the work of the Spirit, a presenter at the Baptist International Conference on Theological Education says.
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Political Sleight-of-Hand Distracts from Weightier Issues
Political Sleight-of-Hand Distracts from Weightier Issues
Our leaders raise the specter of "Big Government" taking away our freedom, but their political sleight-of-hand distracts us from the realization that "Big Money" already has.
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Skype Interview: Lee Camp and the Tokens Show
Skype Interview: Lee Camp and the Tokens Show
Tokens, a theological variety show, unites "really good music and really good theology" without ruining both of them, says Lee Camp in the latest EthicsDaily.com Skype interview.
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The Fiction of Evangelical Friction Over Immigration
The Fiction of Evangelical Friction Over Immigration
Shifts in the debates on immigration policy reform among evangelical Protestants may depend on the frequency and quality of concrete relationships between those sitting in the pews.
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SBC's Evangelistic Claims for Iraq War Fell Apart
SBC's Evangelistic Claims for Iraq War Fell Apart
Southern Baptist leaders who promoted the Iraq War thought it would open heavenly doors. Ten years later, those efforts never materialized, and Iraqi Christians have suffered.
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Teaching Children the Responsibility of Disobedience
Teaching Children the Responsibility of Disobedience
Passive followers help tyrants stay in power. Christian parents and educators can best serve God's kingdom by teaching children the responsibility of disobedience.
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God's Unconditional Love Doesn't Come with an 'If'
God's Unconditional Love Doesn't Come with an 'If'
God loves you. You can't do anything about it. You can't make God love you more. You can't make God love you less. All you can do is receive the gift.
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The Newtown Tragedy: A Jewish Perspective
The Newtown Tragedy: A Jewish Perspective
As we seek to repair our nation's soul following Newtown, let's not neglect our responsibility to seek sensible gun control laws and to improve mental health care.
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New Year's Outlook Will Depend on Our Focus
New Year's Outlook Will Depend on Our Focus
What will the new year hold for us? It will depend on whether we choose to live in fear or work toward relationships of trust and a commitment to each other's well-being.
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Is Christmas About What God Did or Who God Is?
Is Christmas About What God Did or Who God Is?
Christmas is about a lot of things. What if it's also a disclosure of who God is that enables us to see a Christmas in every birth and the possibility of incarnation in every life?
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Measuring Religious Intensity of Catholics, Evangelicals
Measuring Religious Intensity of Catholics, Evangelicals
Once only separated by a few points, the religious intensity of today's evangelicals has grown while the religious intensity of Catholics has declined, a sociologist has found.
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A Theology of Social Media
A Theology of Social Media

Whether we engage actively with social media or not at all, its possibilities present Christians with a range of theological issues to ponder. Steve Holmes concludes his series on social media.

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Why Western Christians Forget Palestinian Christians
Why Western Christians Forget Palestinian Christians
When Western Christians support Israel without reserve, they run the risk of perpetuating the oppression of Palestinian Christians. They value real estate more than people.
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How Evangelism Can Help Us Survive Election
How Evangelism Can Help Us Survive Election
With the passions that drove a contentious election season still fueling fears and anger that impede cooperation, what can help our divided nation? How about evangelism?
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Power Principles
Justice is the standard by which we are to measure every political and social system. Justice is the standard that defines whether a ruler is a success or failure.
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The Kingdom of God, Public Policy, and Judgment
What standard should we use to judge public policy? What factors should guide our decision-making?
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Investing in God’s Kingdom
The politics of God’s Kingdom proclaims that the right Man has already been crucified, resurrected and ascended, so that all powers and principalities are under His control, and that the eternal destiny of the saints and the cosmos are under His control.
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Missouri Baptist Convention Promotes Republican Candidates
Missouri Baptist Convention Promotes Republican Candidates
Despite IRS tax regulations that restrict partisan politicking by tax-exempt organizations, Missouri Baptist Convention leaders introduced three GOP candidates at their annual meeting.
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Why You Can't Live in the Good Old Days
Why You Can't Live in the Good Old Days
We often yearn for the way things used to be, but those days never existed. As one teacher reminded, the world always changes and is always the same. What matters is how we respond.
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Think Twice When You Find Buttons in Your Offering Plate
Think Twice When You Find Buttons in Your Offering Plate
Buttons in the offering plate? Surely, they have no value. We're quick to judge what has value. Why, for example, is the small-church pastor any less successful than the mega-church pastor?
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Help the Poor? Many Christians Prefer to Blame Them
Help the Poor? Many Christians Prefer to Blame Them
The myth that the poor get what they deserve has been around since Jesus' day. While too many Christians accept the myth, one group is taking steps to help poor women.
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Did
Did "Bearing False Witness" Drop Off Top Ten?
People create all kinds of loopholes to get around the commandment to not bear false witness. And the political season reminds us that truth doesn't matter as long as the objective is achieved.
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Celebrate Independence Day - for Christians
Celebrate Independence Day - for Christians

As we near the Fourth of July, how do Christians celebrate their true independence day? It begins by working for God's will on Earth, which means a place of shared abundance.

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Why Does God Ignore Our Fasting, Prayers?
Why Does God Ignore Our Fasting, Prayers?
Faithful Christians ask God to take up their righteous causes but don't get the answer they want. Is it because we're good about confessing the wrongs of the "ungodly" but not our own?
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Have Southern Baptists Entered Witness Protection?
Have Southern Baptists Entered Witness Protection?
"Baptist" used to mean freedom, tolerance and autonomy. Now it means bigotry and partisan politics. And that's why so many Southern Baptist churches need to change their names.
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Dads Aren't Perfect but We're Grateful for Them
Dads Aren't Perfect but We're Grateful for Them
There are no perfect fathers. Some are more skilled than others, but all are flawed in some way. But this Father's Day, we remember that many of them taught us how to live.
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When the Broken-Hearted People Agree
When the Broken-Hearted People Agree
The tortured learn to keep silent in order to avoid the pain of the powers over them. Will we facilitate the silence or will we be ministers of grace to help the tortured find their voice?
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End-Time Doomsayers Make Islam Their New Anti-Christ
End-Time Doomsayers Make Islam Their New Anti-Christ
Some religious groups have a propensity for identifying their opponents with ultimate evil. And now, with the help of end-time doomsayers, Islam is the new agent of Armageddon.
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Faith's Slow Retreat into Irrelevance
Faith's Slow Retreat into Irrelevance
When we allow faith to be redefined as scientific truth or political ideology, we subordinate it to these other realities. To continue down this path is to march our faith toward irrelevance.
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Poll: Only 1 in 5 Jews View Christian Right Favorably
Poll: Only 1 in 5 Jews View Christian Right Favorably
Despite bridge-building efforts between Jews and the Christian Right, Jews view Mormons and Muslims far more favorably than the Christian Right, a poll revealed.
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Can We Discern and Evaluate Without Being Judgmental?
Can We Discern and Evaluate Without Being Judgmental?
Being nonjudgmental can allow us to see the possibilities of good in people and perspectives that we might otherwise reject. It can also lead to an apathetic ethics of "whatever."
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A Lesson in Encouragement from the Fishing Hole
A Lesson in Encouragement from the Fishing Hole
Many people are trying to figure out how to live in a meaningful manner. They crave depth, purpose and faith. Can you bait the hook with some encouragement?
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The Danger of Unquestioned Religious Devotion
The Danger of Unquestioned Religious Devotion
Unquestioned religious devotion takes its toll in many ways. Sadly, people throughout history have never done so much wrong as they have done in the name of religious conviction.
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Being Thankful for Impact of an Opinionated Woman
Being Thankful for Impact of an Opinionated Woman
If something didn't work the way it should, Ethel would find out why and fix it. She was a formidable woman with strong opinions about everything. And you know what? She was right.
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How Good Teachers Inspire Our Better Angels
How Good Teachers Inspire Our Better Angels
The children in our public schools come from every imaginable and unimaginable situation, but never underestimate the power of a good teacher to make a difference in their lives.
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Norquist's No-Tax Ideology Is Foolishness
Norquist's No-Tax Ideology Is Foolishness
Grover Norquist taps public resentment of taxes without a hint of his underlying opposition to Social Security, public education and all that makes middle-class prosperity possible.
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The Resurrection: Something to Prove or Experience?
The Resurrection: Something to Prove or Experience?
The four Gospels and Paul's accounts of Jesus' resurrection don't agree with each other. What do we do about that? We can try to reconcile it, reject it or experience it.
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How Evangelicalism Has Watered Down the Gospel
How Evangelicalism Has Watered Down the Gospel
The throngs cheered as Jesus entered Jerusalem. But he soon disappointed them by not validating their nationalistic dreams, supporting their claims of exclusivity or endorsing their political exceptionalism.
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The Predictions That Harold Camping Missed
The Predictions That Harold Camping Missed
Folks like Harold Camping may view the Bible as a cosmic crystal ball, but the true predictive power of Scripture is its foretelling of the consequences of human behavior.
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When Faith, Government Intersect for Common Good
When Faith, Government Intersect for Common Good
Our Constitution certainly mandates a separation of church and state – even if it doesn't use that language. However, no mandate separates faith from public life.
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Alabama Faith Leaders Urge Anti-Immigration Law's Repeal
Alabama Faith Leaders Urge Anti-Immigration Law's Repeal
Religious leaders in Alabama are urging state lawmakers to make the noble and honorable action of repealing the state's anti-immigration law, one of the harshest in the nation.
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Those Who Break Boundaries Give Us Courage
Those Who Break Boundaries Give Us Courage
Something innate in the human spirit drives us to reach beyond our boundaries. John Glenn broke one of those boundaries 50 years ago when he orbited the Earth.
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President Obama’s Five Most Personal Religious Statements
(RNS) In recent days, GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum has criticized President Obama for having a "phony theology" not based on the Bible.
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Rick Santorum Defends Views on Obama’s Theology
WASHINGTON (RNS) Republican presidential contender Rick Santorum is defending his views questioning prenatal testing and President Obama's "theology."
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How Not to Attract Excellent Teachers
How Not to Attract Excellent Teachers
Calling it a biblical principle, an Alabama senator opposes raising teachers' salaries because it will attract people who are not called. But guess who voted for a raise for state lawmakers?
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Sparks Fly as House GOP Blasts Contraception Mandate
WASHINGTON (RNS) Exhibit A in the fight over President Obama's mandate for religious institutions to provide insurance coverage for contraception: a ham sandwich.
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How Protestants Have Made Accommodations
How Protestants Have Made Accommodations
What a difference a half-century makes. Conservative Protestants, once focused on individual salvation, have become more aggressive cultural activists.
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Poll Finds Americans Split on Contraception Mandate
WASHINGTON (RNS) Americans are split on a federal mandate requiring nearly all employers to provide insurance covering contraception.
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New York Knicks’ Jeremy Lin Dubbed the ‘Taiwanese Tebow’
(RNS) New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin's underdog story and outspoken evangelical faith have some sportswriters dubbing him the "Taiwanese Tebow."
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Washington Becomes Seventh State to Legalize Gay Marriage
SPOKANE, Wash. (RNS) In an emotional ceremony, Gov. Chris Gregoire signed legislation that makes Washington the seventh state to legalize gay marriage.
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Obama Exempts Religious Groups from Contraception Mandate
(RNS) President Obama unveiled an "accommodation'' in which health insurance companies will provide employees with contraception coverage.
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Bonhoeffer – A Faith That Stood Against Darkness
Bonhoeffer – A Faith That Stood Against Darkness
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who urged German Christians to stand against Nazi tyranny and violence, joined in a plot to assassinate Hitler – one of the more problematic elements of his life.
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Anglican Breakaway Group Confronts New Power Struggle
NASHVILLE (RNS) The saga of the Anglican Mission in the Americas sounds like the words to an old country song: "Why have you left the one you left me for?"
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Egyptians Say Christian Party Is Not the Answer
WASHINGTON (RNS) A delegation of Egyptian Christian leaders said they do not support the development of a Christian political party.
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Lawmaker Angry over Loss of ‘God’ in Air Force Logo
(RNS) Dozens of members of Congress are upset that the Air Force has removed the Latin word for "God" from the logo of an Air Force acquisitions office.
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Five Reasons Why Obama Is Losing the Contraception Fight
(RNS) The White House has surprised observers and disappointed some liberal allies by signaling that it is willing to compromise.
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White House Signals Backtrack on Contraception Rule
(RNS) Advisors are signaling a potential compromise on a controversial new mandate that requires institutions to cover contraception costs for employees.
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Church-State Separation: The Line's Easy to See
Church-State Separation: The Line's Easy to See
The line between responsible Christian citizenship and political partisanship isn't hard to define. People of faith need to bring their beliefs to bear on all matters of public life without violating church-state separation.
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Mainline Protestants Up for Grabs Heading into November
WASHINGTON (RNS) White mainline Protestants have a big thing going for them this election cycle: they are divided, and possibly persuadable.
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Obama Says Faith Mandates Him to Care for the Poor
WASHINGTON (RNS) President Obama connected his faith with his policies toward the poor at the National Prayer Breakfast.
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Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims Blast Rick Santorum on Equality Comment
(RNS) Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus are accusing Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum of bigotry and ignorance.
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Harsh Political Partisanship Feeds off Division
Harsh Political Partisanship Feeds off Division
Not long after President Obama concluded his State of the Union address, critics were denouncing him. Today's politics thrives off a hard-edged division that won't allow compromise.
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Top Catholic Bishop Feels Betrayed by Obama
NEW YORK (RNS) The administration's decision on health insurance had New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan feeling personally betrayed.
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After Angering Catholics, White House Honors Teachers
WASHINGTON (RNS) The White House heralded nine Catholic educators as "Champions of Catholic Education."
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Poll: Preachy Politicians Turn Off Many Voters
(RNS) If there's one thing the fractious Republican field agrees on, it's that personal religious devotion is central to their campaign message.
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Why Presidential Hopefuls Must Feign Religious Piety
Why Presidential Hopefuls Must Feign Religious Piety
The presidential race is shaping up as an old-time religious revival. Sadly, many people of faith are willing to settle for token recognition while real issues, such as poverty and racism, are ignored.
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Obama Holds Firm on Contraception Coverage
(RNS) The Obama administration said that it will not broaden the religious exemption in new rules that require employers to provide contraception coverage.
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Conservative Presbyterians Launch New Denomination
(RNS) Conservative Presbyterians launched a new denomination, saying that the Presbyterian Church (USA) cannot nurture healthy congregations.
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Catholics warn Gingrich, Santorum on race baiting
(RNS) Catholic leaders have issued an open letter to Catholic candidates Gingrich and Santorum, warning them “to stop perpetuating ugly racial stereotypes.”
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Are Mormons Christian? It’s Complicated
(RNS) Ask Mormons if they are Christian, and their answer often starts with a sigh.
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Will Evangelical Endorsement Fuel Santorum Surge?
(RNS) The Iowa caucuses revived Rick Santorum’s underdog presidential campaign. Now an influential assortment of Christian conservatives has moved to consecrate it.
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Muslims Say Ron Paul is Their Kind of Republican
(RNS) Growing up in rural parts of the American West, Nadja Adolf’s libertarian streak developed early on.
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For God So Loved Not Just You, But the World
For God So Loved Not Just You, But the World
Much of what passes for Christianity these days either has been thoroughly politicized or deeply privatized. God's interested in more than our spiritual journey; there's a world of needy people out there.
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New White House Staffers Have Catholic, Jewish Ties
(RNS) President Obama named an immigration expert with longstanding ties to the Catholic Church as his top domestic policy official.
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Would Mormons Try to Influence a Romney White House?
WASHINGTON (RNS) When Switzerland passed new employment rules, 13 Mormon members of Congress pleaded with the Swiss ambassador for an exception.
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Mixing Politics and Religion = Weakened Faith
Mixing Politics and Religion = Weakened Faith
Wanting to have their faith affirmed by political leaders, many Christians are content to redefine what it means to be Christian in overt political terms.
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Iowa Demonstrates Struggles of Conservative Evangelical Voters
Iowa Demonstrates Struggles of Conservative Evangelical Voters
Conservative Christian evangelicals helped Rick Santorum surge to a virtual first-place in Iowa's GOP caucuses, suggesting problems for Mitt Romney, who hasn't increased his support beyond one-quarter of Republicans.
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Romney’s Evangelical Problem Starts with Theology
(RNS) The good news for Mitt Romney: he won the Iowa caucuses. The bad news for Romney: evangelicals remain reluctant to support him.
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Atheists Face Uphill Climb with New Political Party
(RNS) How viable is a political party with the word “atheist” in its name?
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5 Issues Your Church Members Will Discuss in 2012
5 Issues Your Church Members Will Discuss in 2012
Pundits and journalists are predicting what the top issues for 2012 will be. Here are five of the issues that will be on the minds of church members in the new year.
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What Has to Change for Your Resolutions to Succeed
What Has to Change for Your Resolutions to Succeed
We should resolve to do better in all areas of our lives. But when we fail to grow and learn from past experiences, we will make the same mistakes over and over again.
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Tebow is Top Religion Author of 2011
(RNS) Critics have hammered Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow for everything from his throwing style to his trademark professions of evangelical faith.
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Evangelicals Side with Catholics on Insurance Mandate
WASHINGTON (RNS) Catholics who have pushed back against a White House policy are getting a high-profile assist from dozens of evangelical leaders.
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This Christmas, Do You Know Where Jesus Is?
This Christmas, Do You Know Where Jesus Is?
The one who entered the world in weakness and vulnerability came to reveal a way of life that has the power to transform everything. But do Christians know where Jesus is?
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Obama Defends His Israel Policy at Jewish Conference
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. (RNS) President Obama told a crowd of Reform Jews that no other administration “has done more in support of Israel’s security.”
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Where the War of Christmas is Really Lost
Where the War of Christmas is Really Lost
'Tis the season for certain faith ministries to declare that Christmas is under a full-scale assault, but the true war on Christmas isn't being lost because a store clerk wishes you a happy holiday.
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Conservatives Rate Naughty and Nice Christmas Retailers
(RNS) Don’t let the strains of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” over the store’s audio system fool you. Barnes & Noble is “against” Christmas.
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Does God Pick the Winners in Football Games?
Does God Pick the Winners in Football Games?
God cares deeply about every facet of our existence, but does he care about our golf score as much as he cares about children's welfare? Does he care which side wins a football game?
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Religious Freedom Panel Prepares to Close
WASHINGTON (RNS) A federal watchdog panel that monitors religious freedom around the world is preparing to shut down unless Congress passes a last-minute measure.
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GOP Candidates Make Pitch to Jewish Voters
WASHINGTON (RNS) Newt Gingrich ignited an audience of Republican Jewish activists by promising to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
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Poll Suggests Believers Can Be Swayed on Nukes, Environment
WASHINGTON (RNS) Most American believers see preventing climate change or the spread of nuclear weapons as important goals, according to a new poll.
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2012 Candidates Asked to Sign Religious Freedom Pledge
(RNS) An advocacy organization for persecuted Christians has asked the 2012 presidential candidates to sign a pledge stating they would make religious freedom a priority.
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Anti-Mormon Bias Persistent in Presidential Politics
(RNS) On June 27, 1844, vigilantes cornered a man who claimed to receive messages from God and gunned him down in an Illinois jail after his arrest.
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Poll: Mitt Romney’s Mormonism Could Be a Primary Problem
(RNS) If Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney can secure the nomination, his Mormon faith shouldn’t be an obstacle for voters in the general election.
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Religious Groups Spend Nearly $400 million on D.C. Advocacy
WASHINGTON (RNS) The number of religious advocacy groups has more than tripled since the 1970s, with conservative groups seeing the biggest growth.
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Change Comes to Bob Jones University
GREENVILLE, S.C. (RNS) It started in 2005, when the mantle of university president passed to Stephen Jones, Bob Jones III’s son.
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Amid Religious Conflicts, Finding Reasons for Hope
Amid Religious Conflicts, Finding Reasons for Hope
While the media focus on conflicts of religious communities, many of which are afflicted with all-or-nothing ideologies, there are signs of hope, such as World Vision's president making the evangelical case for foreign aid.
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Gay, Muslim Groups Relieved by Changes to Bullying Bill
(RNS) A Michigan lawmaker agreed to drop a provision in an anti-bullying bill that would have carved out an exemption for religious or moral beliefs.
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Bishops Welcome Dialogue with Obama as Concerns Remain
BALTIMORE (RNS) The standoff between the White House and the nation’s Catholic bishops over gay marriage and other hot-button issues may be easing.
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Some Evangelicals Warm Up to Climate-Change Issues
Some Evangelicals Warm Up to Climate-Change Issues
A faith-focused conference zeroed in on the environment for its theme, and even once-shy and opposing evangelicals are moving into the forefront on the issue.
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N.Y. Clerk Who Refused Gay Marriage Licenses Wins Re-election
LEDYARD, N.Y. (RNS) The town clerk in Ledyard, N.Y., who drew national attention after refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples won re-election.
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Bishops Gear Up for Fight with Obama
(RNS) When the nation’s Catholic bishops gather, the issue that will stand out is their growing resolve to engage in politically charged battles.
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After Miss. Defeat, What’s next for Personhood?
WASHINGTON (RNS) The failure of the “personhood” initiative in Mississippi intensified what appears to be a growing divide in the anti-abortion movement.
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Study Says Religious Services Make Some Women Happier
A new study in the Journal of Religion and Health suggests that there’s a link between optimism and attendance at religious services.
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Evangelicals Call for Nuclear Cutbacks
WASHINGTON (RNS) The National Association of Evangelicals called for greater precautions with nuclear weapons and a renewed effort toward disarmament.
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Survey Finds Deep Challenges for Romney
WASHINGTON (RNS) More than four in 10 American voters say they are uncomfortable with the idea of a Mormon in the White House.
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Religious Leaders Lobby Congress for Foreign Aid
WASHINGTON (RNS) As Congress prepares for a high-stakes battle over federal spending, religious leaders are lobbying senators to preserve foreign aid as a moral obligation.
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Catholics Urge Civility in Politics
WASHINGTON (RNS) A group of Catholic elder statesmen called for more civility in politics, saying Catholics have also been subjected to scrutiny.
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Congress Considers Conscience Rights in Health Care
WASHINGTON (RNS) Catholic and other Christian health care providers denounced a rule that requires insurers to cover contraception.
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Saudi-Iran Tensions Overshadow Hajj Pilgrimage
(RNS) Reports last month that Iran plotted to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the U.S. have enflamed animosity between the two Muslim powers.
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What's a Baptist? Anything and Everything
What's a Baptist? Anything and Everything
Baptists took form seeking to reform the church in models of simplicity, but are so complex today that many observers despair of finding a model term for them.
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Faith, Political Leaders Find Out How Far Food Stamps Go
WASHINGTON (RNS) Religious leaders and members of Congress are getting a firsthand taste of what it’s like to eat on $4.50 a day as part of the “Food Stamp Challenge.”
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Bishops Warn Congress on Threats to Freedom
WASHINGTON (RNS) U.S. Catholic bishops dispatched their new point man on religious freedom to warn Congress that religious people risk being labeled as bigots.
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Faith Groups Target Super Committee
WASHINGTON (RNS) Religious communities are holding prayer vigils, phoning politicians and organizing letter campaigns in a bid to protect safety net programs.
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D.C. Pastor to Lead Democrats’ Faith Outreach
WASHINGTON (RNS) The Democratic National Committee has tapped a well-connected Washington pastor to lead the party’s religious outreach.
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Obama Hosts First Evangelical Summit at White House
(RNS) President Obama formally extended his ear to evangelicals ahead of the 2012 election.
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Schismatics Discuss Vatican Demands
VATICAN CITY (RNS) Leaders of the group that’s in schism with the Catholic Church met to consider the Vatican’s conditions for reconciliation.
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GOP Campaigns Court Values Voters at D.C. Summit
WASHINGTON (RNS) Several candidates sought to kick-start their stalling campaigns by preaching a gospel of low taxes and conservative Christian values.
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Poll: Obama Seen as Smartest, Most Honest Candidate
WASHINGTON (RNS) Americans consider President Obama to be the smartest and most honest presidential candidate against Mitt Romney and Rick Perry.
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Without Compromise, U.S. Will Continue to Crumble
Without Compromise, U.S. Will Continue to Crumble
Unemployment. Endless wars. Climate crisis. With problems plaguing the U.S. at every turn, our nation seems to be running on empty. More than ever, it's time our leaders compromise to find solutions.
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Poll: Americans Want Political Compromise
Poll: Americans Want Political Compromise
A majority of people in the U.S. want their federal elected officials to seek compromise, a new poll says. Tea Party supporters are the only group that rejects compromise in favor of sticking to their beliefs.
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Bishops Warn that Church Teaching is Nonpartisan
(RNS) U.S. Catholic bishops reminded Catholic voters that they can’t cherry-pick from church teachings to justify their own political preferences.
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Evangelicals Line Up Behind Rick Perry
(RNS) From media mavens to grassroots activists, conservative Christian leaders are heaping praise on presidential candidate Rick Perry.
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Clock Is Ticking for Religious Freedom Panel
WASHINGTON (RNS) The independent and bipartisan U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom could be forced to shut its doors.
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Vatican Gives Conservative Group an Ultimatum
VATICAN CITY (RNS) Reconciliation between the pope and a schismatic group is impossible unless the group accepts the last half-century of modernizing reforms.
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State Dept. Chides Eight Countries on Religious Freedom
WASHINGTON (RNS) The State Department designated eight nations as the most serious violators of religious freedom.
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Megachurch Seeks to Reassure New Portland Neighbors
PORTLAND, Ore. (RNS) The pastor sought to reassure his new neighbors about the church’s philosophy.
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Bloomberg, Faith Groups Face off Over 9/11 Prayers
NEW YORK (RNS) Critics hope enough pressure will convince Bloomberg to allow clergy to speak Sunday at ceremonies to mark the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
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Dean of Black Preachers Defends Obama
(RNS) In a new book, the Rev. Gardner Taylor decries the treatment of President Obama by his critics.
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Five Facts about Dominionism
(RNS) In recent weeks, an arcane and scary-sounding religious term has crept into the lexicon of the 2012 campaign.
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At 39, Gordon President Leads Evangelical Up-and-comers
WENHAM, Mass. (RNS) Lindsay has been living the very phenomenon he’s studied in depth: evangelicals climbing the ranks of institutions and becoming elites.
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Bachmann’s Prophecy, Joke or Not, Has Lots of Company
(RNS) Bachmann is facing a flood of criticism for suggesting, perhaps in jest, that God sent Hurricane Irene and the East Coast earthquake.
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"The Conscience of Alabama" Calls Out Injustice
For nearly 40 years, Wayne Flynt has confronted the racism and accompanying poverty in Alabama with a courageous and informed passion. Yet he remains an unassuming and soulful individual.
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American Politics More Religious than American Voters
The country has grown less religious since the 1970s, while frequent churchgoers are now much more likely to vote Republican or support the Tea Party, according to recent studies.
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Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Harper Lee
Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Harper Lee
Harper Lee's "To Kill A Mockingbird" profoundly challenged racism's empty mythology. Today, insecure majorities still view anyone different, including Hispanics and Muslims, as a threat.
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Senators Probe Politics and Piety in New Books
WASHINGTON (RNS) Truth be told, when asked to name a spiritual role model, few people would likely pick a sitting U.S. senator.
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Evangelical, Fundamentalist and Born-again Aren’t the Same
(RNS) I was dining with friends in New York when the conversation turned to religion and politics.
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Black Baptists Decry Disrespect Directed at Obama
WASHINGTON (RNS) A black denomination that began in support of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. has decried the “disrespect” shown to President Obama.
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As Economy Declines, Who Ultimately Pays the Price?
As Economy Declines, Who Ultimately Pays the Price?
The economy continues to decline. Financial benefits shift to the wealthy. Charitable dollars continue to plummet. And those suffering the most will be the ones about whom Jesus was most concerned.
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Religious Groups Irked by Contraception Mandate
(RNS) The Obama administration is taking heat from religious groups upset that new federal health regulations may force them to pay for employees’ birth control.
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An Interview with God:
An Interview with God: "Who Said I Endorsed Them?"
Granting a rare and brief "interview," God discusses politicians who say they're suited for office because they have a special relationship with God. Does the Almighty endorse?
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Manhattan Declaration Comes to New Orleans
NEW ORLEANS (RNS) Nearly 200 pastors, policymakers and other New Orleans-area Christians were urged to sign a declaration circulating nationally.
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With Spotlight on Mormon Faith, Scholars Gather to Defend It
(RNS) Mormon founder Joseph Smith may have declared all churches to be wrong, even apostate, but he also defined Mormonism as an inclusivist faith.
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Colleges Sign Up for Obama’s Interfaith Program
WASHINGTON (RNS) More than 250 colleges, universities and seminaries have submitted plans to the White House for yearlong interfaith service projects.
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Zondervan Brings Rob Bell to the App World
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (RNS) A film series founded by megachurch pastor and author Rob Bell is finding new life as a smartphone app.
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Why Should Anyone Work for the Common Good?
Why Should Anyone Work for the Common Good?
Why work for the common good? Why not just watch out for you and yours? A commitment to the common good recognizes that the community as a whole benefits from services that help everyone.
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Stott, Called Evangelical Pope, Dies at age 90
(RNS) The Rev. John Stott, a renowned and prolific author credited with shaping 20th-century evangelical Christianity, died in England at age 90.
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Catholic Bishops Urge House Against Steep Budget Cuts
(RNS) The nation’s Roman Catholic bishops are urging the GOP-led House to reject a cuts-only approach to the budget.
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Church-state Groups Slam Obama on Hiring Issue
WASHINGTON (RNS) The status-quo stance on the issue of faith-based hiring has drawn criticism from atheists and church-state watchdogs.
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U.S. Conservatives on the Defensive after Oslo Killings
(RNS) For years, many religious and political conservatives in the U.S. have sought to connect Islam to violence carried out by Muslims.
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When God Expects Us to Answer Our Prayers
When God Expects Us to Answer Our Prayers
As politicians call for prayer to end droughts and disasters, we should remember we have a role to play in the answers. If we've caused problems, such as altering weather patterns, we should fix them.
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Churches Press Obama to Protect Poor in Budget Talks
WASHINGTON (RNS) President Obama agrees with religious officials’ concerns about protecting the poor, according to leaders who met with him this week.
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Campus Crusade Ditches Name for 'Cru'
(RNS) Campus Crusade for Christ is out. “Cru” is in.
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Senators Debate Bill to Recognize Gay Marriages
WASHINGTON (RNS) Senators wrestled with issues of faith and religious freedom as they debated a new bill to recognize same-sex marriages.
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As Candidates Run for Office, Some Run from Their Church
(RNS) On a recent Sunday, Rep. Michele Bachmann gave a Pentecostal church in Iowa an intimate account of her pilgrimage to devout Christian.
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Pennsylvania Debates Whether Thou Shalt not Hunt on the Sabbath
HARRISBURG, Pa. (RNS) Two of the most influential forces in conservative lobbying are poised to go head-to-head this fall over this difficult issue.
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Battling Over the Meaning of the Bible's Words
Battling Over the Meaning of the Bible's Words
As language continues to evolve and as biblical scholars help us better understand the meaning of ancient words, Bible translations need to be updated. This presents a problem for those who adhere to inerrancy.
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Pawlenty Woos Evangelicals with Faith Video
WASHINGTON (RNS) Pawlenty has sharpened efforts to woo evangelical voters in Iowa by releasing a video where he speaks candidly about his faith.
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Pastors Lobby for Poor in Heated Deficit Talks
WASHINGTON (RNS) More than 4,000 pastors told Congress that churches would not be able to fill the gap facing social service providers if deep cuts are made.
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NBC Apologizes to Congress for Edited Pledge
WASHINGTON (RNS) NBC has issued a formal apology to more than 100 members of Congress for omitting the words “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance.
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Iowa Marriage Pledge Drops Reference to Slavery
WASHINGTON (RNS) An conservative Christian organization has removed language about slavery from a pledge to uphold traditional marriage.
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Catholics Return Check from Lawmaker over Marriage Vote
RNS) A New York lawmaker has found himself at odds with the Roman Catholic Church after a parish school refused a $50 donation.
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House Directs Pentagon to Uphold DOMA Law on Gay Marriage
WASHINGTON (RNS) House lawmakers voted to order the Pentagon to uphold the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act that defines marriage as between one man and one woman.
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Is America Ready for a Mormon President?
Is America Ready for a Mormon President?
With its strong emphasis on family and the church's vigorous mission activity, the Church of Latter-Day Saints is one of the fastest-growing religions in the world. But is America ready for a Mormon president?
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Church-state Groups Seek Equal Play for Atheist Concert
WASHINGTON (RNS) Activist groups criticized the Army for allowing an evangelical concert at Fort Bragg but not a concert for nonbelievers.
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Mormon Leaders Told to Stay Out of Politics
SALT LAKE CITY (RNS) Mormon officials are telling their top, full-time leaders that they and their spouses should not participate in political campaigns.
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Mo. Congressman Apologizes for God Comment
(RNS) A Missouri congressman has apologized for telling a national radio audience that “at the heart of liberalism really is a hatred for God.”
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Why Our Founders Favored Church-State Separation
Why Our Founders Favored Church-State Separation
The genius of our Founding Fathers is that they knew that religion, however positive and wholesome it can be, also serves as a divisive force for those who disagree with particular tenets of faith.
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Evangelical Leader to Retire from Minn. Pulpit
(RNS) Evangelical leader Leith Anderson has announced plans to retire as senior pastor of his Eden Prairie, Minn. megachurch.
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Can a Creedless Religion Make It Another 50 Years?
BALTIMORE (RNS) A recent Sunday service at the First Unitarian Church of Baltimore ended with an apology.
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Evangelicals, WCC, Vatican Reach Accord on Proselytizing
WASHINGTON (RNS) Christian missionaries should renounce all “deception and coercive means” of winning converts.
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Liberals Angry After Congressman’s God Comments
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (RNS) A congressman is catching flak from some liberals for saying last week that “at the heart of liberalism really is a hatred for God.”
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Why Jesus Rejects the Eye-For-Eye Mentality
Why Jesus Rejects the Eye-For-Eye Mentality
Violence is a vicious cycle. We have fought for so long against each other that warfare has become our natural state. But Jesus' call to nonviolent resistance to evil shows us the path to genuine humanity.
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Pawlenty Leads in Informal Poll of Evangelical Leaders
WASHINGTON (RNS) Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is the top Republican pick of evangelical leaders, according to an informal survey.
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Evangelicals See Declining Influence in U.S.
(RNS) Are U.S. evangelicals losing their influence on America? A new poll released from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life seems to say just that.
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Leaving God out of Pledge Tees off Ohio Congressman
WASHINGTON (RNS) NBC’s decision to edit the word “God” from the Pledge of Allegiance has teed off an Ohio congressman.
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Conservatives Want Senator to Resign after Affair
WASHINGTON (RNS) The president of the Christian conservative Family Policy Network sent Sen. David Vitter, R-La., a letter calling on him to resign.
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Pawlenty’s Prominent Pastor not a Political Pawn
(RNS) When GOP presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty goes to church, he knows he’ll hear a 27-minute sermon—never longer, never shorter.
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Forgotten Past: Religious Minority to Oppressive Majority
Forgotten Past: Religious Minority to Oppressive Majority
As some Christians celebrate Alabama’s adoption of the harshest anti-immigration law in the nation, it’s clear they have forgotten their own roots as an oppressed religious minority.
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Two Kinds of Faith – Disembodied and Embodied
Two Kinds of Faith – Disembodied and Embodied
Faith can be classified into two major categories. Disembodied faith allows us to promote faith without really getting involved with people. Embodied faith is fleshed out and part of a community.
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Evangelicals Wade into Circumcision Debate
(RNS) The National Association of Evangelicals is siding with Jews and Muslims in opposition of a proposed ban on infant male circumcision in San Francisco.
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Anglican Leader Slams British Austerity Budget
LONDON (RNS) The Archbishop has touched off a fury by accusing the British government of causing widespread “anxiety and anger” with its new austerity budget.
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Egyptians Want Advice, Not Rule, of Clerics
WASHINGTON (RNS) A new Gallup survey says a majority of Egyptians want religious leaders to advise the nation’s officials but they do not want a theocracy.
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Evangelicals: Bachmann Speaks Our Code
WASHINGTON (RNS) Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour warned several hundred Christian conservatives not to expect a “perfect candidate” to emerge.
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Poll: Two-thirds of Americans OK with Mormon Candidate
WASHINGTON (RNS) Roughly two out of three Americans say it makes no difference to them if a presidential candidate is Mormon.
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Clinton Defends Religious Freedom Envoy
WASHINGTON (RNS) Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton defended her new ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom.
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The Greatest Lesson I Learned From My Dad
The Greatest Lesson I Learned From My Dad
Our parents are our first teachers, and their lessons are embedded deep in our souls. Of my dad's many lessons, I am particularly grateful that he taught me people are important.
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When Religious Values, Common Good Coincide
When Religious Values, Common Good Coincide
Catholic bishops recently took Speaker of the House John Boehner to task, claiming his congressional actions didn't uphold Catholic teachings. At what point do religious concerns become issues of the common good for society?
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Study Suggests Born-Again Believers Have Smaller Brains
DURHAM, N.C. (RNS) For decades, mainline Protestants have been beset by bad news: declining numbers, aging membership, waning cultural influence.
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Power of Community Can Address Hunger, Poverty
Power of Community Can Address Hunger, Poverty
When natural disasters strike, communities are quick to help their neighbors. That's humanity at its best. What will it take for us to respond to the "slow-motion" tragedies of hunger, lack of health care and loneliness?
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Climate Change: How Evangelical and Catholic Leaders Differ
Climate Change: How Evangelical and Catholic Leaders Differ
More than two-thirds of evangelical pastors doubt global warming is real and manmade while Catholic leaders issued a call to action to address the problem. Why are evangelical leaders in denial?
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Billy Graham Returns Home from Hospital
(RNS) Evangelist Billy Graham returned home after a five-day hospital stay for pneumonia.
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End-Of-World 'Prophets' Profit From Peoples' Fears
End-Of-World 'Prophets' Profit From Peoples' Fears
A radio evangelist predicted the world will end on Saturday. While end-time marketers have been making money by feeding off people’s fears for a long time, there’s another perspective.
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Bill Would Strengthen Role of Religious Freedom Envoy
WASHINGTON (RNS) New legislation would push the State Department to make international religious freedom a greater priority.
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Abuse Victims Oppose Pick for House Chaplain
WASHINGTON (RNS) The nation’s leading advocacy group for victims of clergy sexual abuse is opposing an Oregon Jesuit’s bid to serve as House chaplain.
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Muslims Battle to Be Official Voice of U.S. Islam
(RNS) As president of the Phoenix-based American Islamic Forum for Democracy, Zuhdi Jasser is no fan of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
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Finding God in Unexpected and Marvel-ous Places
(RNS) “Thor,” is the kind of cinematic legend where the only word that truly seems to fit is “epic.”
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Jesuit to Become Chaplain of the House
(RNS) A Jesuit will be sworn in as the 60th chaplain of the House of Representatives on May 25.
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Ala. Governor Calls Jews Brothers and Sisters
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (RNS) Gov. Robert Bentley twice referred to Jews as his “brothers and sisters” during a Holocaust remembrance event.
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Does God Send Natural Disasters When Angered?
Does God Send Natural Disasters When Angered?
We ascribe to God a terrible anger that lashes out from time to time in the form of natural disasters. God is angered by our sinfulness, and a price must be paid. But another portrait of God is found in the Bible.
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After Court Gives OK, Christians Mark National Day of Prayer
WASHINGTON (RNS) Supporters marked the 60th annual National Day of Prayer, just weeks after a federal appeals court dismissed a suit that challenged the law.
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Why It's Time to Proudly Wear the Liberal Label
Why It's Time to Proudly Wear the Liberal Label
Many religious "liberals" now call themselves "progressives," but there's nothing wrong with being liberal, especially if by definition this means that one is free, generous and broadminded.
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Jews, Evangelicals Search for Ways to Discuss Israel
WASHINGTON (RNS) American Jews and evangelicals need a formal mechanism to discuss their differences and similarities on support for Israel.
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What Jesus Really Wants Us To Pray For
What Jesus Really Wants Us To Pray For
Jesus taught us to pray so things here on earth will work like they do in heaven. What's not working? Three wars, for starters. Add poverty, hunger and an economic system that rewards the rich and punishes the poor.
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The President’s (Born-again) Birth Certificate
(RNS) So, according to the long-form birth certificate released by the White House Barack Hussein Obama II was born in Oahu, Honolulu, Hawaii.
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Panel Cites Egypt for Religious Freedom Violations
WASHINGTON (RNS) A religious freedom watchdog panel has added Egypt to its list of the worst violators of religious liberty.
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Churches Form Circle of Protection Around Poor
(RNS) Christian leaders have formed a “Circle of Protection” against U.S. cuts to poverty-fighting programs.
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Gingrich Talks of Journey to Catholicism
WASHINGTON (RNS) Gingrich traced his spiritual journey from Southern Baptist to Roman Catholic at a Catholic prayer breakfast.
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Former N.J. Governor Denied Episcopal Ordination
NEWARK, N.J. (RNS) Former New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey will not be ordained into the Episcopal Church priesthood in the near future.
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Bill Would Limit Military Funeral Protests
WASHINGTON (RNS) A bipartisan group of senators has introduced a bill that would make it harder to protest outside military funerals.
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Resurrection: More Than Just Life After Death
Resurrection: More Than Just Life After Death
By raising Jesus from the dead, God defeated death and secured for all who have faith the gift of eternal life. And, unfortunately, that's where it stops for many Christians.
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Poll: Americans See Clash Between Values of Christianity, Capitalism
(RNS) Are Christianity and capitalism a marriage made in heaven, as some conservatives believe?
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Obama Invokes Christian Beliefs at Easter Prayer Breakfast
WASHINGTON (RNS) President Obama said Jesus’ death and resurrection on Easter “puts everything else in perspective,” at a White House event.
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State Department Fires Back at Ambassador
WASHINGTON (RNS) The State Department fired back at a prominent Catholic ambassador who said the agency has a “rigidly narrow” view of foreign policy.
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Bishops Defend Criticism of Top Theologian
WASHINGTON (RNS) Under fire for criticizing a popular theologian, the U.S. Catholic bishops said they must occasionally assume the role of referee.
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Burned Church Nears Completion as Suspect Found Guilty
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (RNS) As a white man surrendered to federal marshals, workers were rebuilding the pulpit of the Macedonia Church of God in Christ.
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Senate Confirms Religious Freedom Ambassador
WASHINGTON (RNS) A New York minister will soon fill the Obama administration’s long-vacant position to oversee international religious freedom.
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As Self-Appointed Media Watchdog, AFA Goes On Attack
As Self-Appointed Media Watchdog, AFA Goes On Attack
The American Family Association, self-appointed watchdog of all things moral in the media, decrees what can and can't be watched. In their latest campaign, they give a tacit blessing to verbal abuse and other assaults.
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Court Dismisses Challenge to National Day of Prayer
WASHINGTON (RNS) The law calling for an annual National Day of Prayer imposes solely on the duties of the U.S. president.
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Evangelicals Named to Ministry Watchdog Panel
WASHINGTON (RNS) The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability has announced members of a commission to advise Capitol Hill.
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Scholar Challenges Widely-held Beliefs About the Bible and Sex
(RNS) Is the Bible good for your sex life, but bad for a sex ed class?
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Report: Ambassador Spends too Much Time on Religion
WASHINGTON (RNS) The U.S. ambassador to Malta has spent “considerable time” writing on topics beyond the mission of his office.
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The
The "Christ-Haunted" Music of Kate Campbell
Although the Christian music industry won't have her, Kate Campbell's music, as reflected in songs like "Bear It Away," brings a prophetic insight into social issues.
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Obama, Karzai Blast Florida Quran Burning
WASHINGTON (RNS) Presidents Obama and Karzai blasted the recent burning of a Quran at a Florida church and the deadly riots that followed.
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Evangelicals Most Likely to Support Government Shutdown
WASHINGTON (RNS) A slim majority of evangelicals favor government shutdown over a budget compromise.
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Embattled Religious Freedom Envoy the New Iron Lady
WASHINGTON (RNS) The embattled nominee is comparing herself to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
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Why We Need Less Charity, More Justice
Why We Need Less Charity, More Justice
We need more than charity if we want to make a meaningful difference to address poverty. When we work for justice, we can address the larger issues of taxation and education that keep poverty alive.
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Catholic Bishops Censure Feminist Theologian’s Book
WASHINGTON (RNS) The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops condemned a book by Sister Elizabeth Johnson, a prominent feminist theologian.
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Religious Freedom Envoy Tries for a Second Time
WASHINGTON (RNS) The Obama administration’s nominee to oversee international religious freedom returned to Capitol Hill.
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Tennessee Amends Anti-Shariah Bill
(RNS) Tennessee lawmakers are rewriting a bill that described Islamic law as a threat to U.S. security and seemed to equate peaceful Muslim practices with terrorism.
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Where Santorum Falls Short on Church-State Separation
Where Santorum Falls Short on Church-State Separation
Rick Santorum, who is likely to seek the GOP nod for president, said fellow Catholic John F. Kennedy did "great damage" with his "radical" support for the separation of church and state. Kennedy gets it; Santorum doesn't.
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Poll: Most Americans Don’t blame God for Natural Disasters
(RNS) We may never know why bad things happen to good people, but most Americans reject the idea that natural disasters are divine punishment.
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Evangelicals Resist Obama’s Childhood Obesity Push
WASHINGTON (RNS) Evangelicals are the only major religious group where a majority opposes the federal government’s efforts to reduce childhood obesity.
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Obama Taps Campuses for Interfaith Service Projects
WASHINGTON (RNS) The White House is hoping to recruit America’s college and seminary students in a nationwide interfaith service campaign.
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Dominican Program Explores, Expands Lay Spirituality
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (RNS) As a student at Aquinas College in the 1980s, David Lincoln was on track to become a Roman Catholic priest.
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Group Claims Environmentalists Belong to
Group Claims Environmentalists Belong to "Cult"
Efforts to save the environment and curb global warming are the result of "a cult" that worships the creation rather than God. That's the bizarre claim of a DVD series cosponsored by the Cornwall Alliance.
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Christians Question Conventional Wisdom on Divorce Stats
(RNS) It’s been proclaimed from pulpits and blogs for years—Christians divorce as much as everyone else in America.
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Three Reasons Why One Pastor Advocates for Poor
Three Reasons Why One Pastor Advocates for Poor
God has a bias toward the poor. With the cards of social resources stacked against the weak and the vulnerable, God tries to balance the scales by being on the side of the most vulnerable – the biblical widow and orphan.
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Churches Press Obama to Reengage on Middle East
(RNS/ENInews) Christian leaders are calling on the Obama administration to renew diplomatic efforts to settle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
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Study Says Engagement Rises with Mosque Attendance
WASHINGTON (RNS) A political science professor says research shows that affiliation with a mosque increases Muslims’ civic engagement.
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Former Counterterrorism Chief Says Muslims Cooperate
(RNS) A former FBI counter terrorism director rejected allegations that Muslim Americans don’t cooperate with law enforcement in terror investigations.
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Court Rejects Challenge to `In God We Trust’
WASHINGTON (RNS) Atheist Michael Newdow plans to continue his fight to get “In God We Trust” off U.S. currency.
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White House Praises Muslims Ahead of Hearing
WASHINGTON (RNS) The Obama administration is highlighting the role Muslim Americans play in combating radicalism in their communities.
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House Republicans Plan to Defend DOMA
WASHINGTON (RNS) House Speaker John Boehner said that he and fellow lawmakers will defend the Defense of Marriage Act.
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What Would Jesus Cut From Federal Budget?
What Would Jesus Cut From Federal Budget?
The current conservative resurgence of anti-government spending is focused on monies that are intended for the poorest and most vulnerable of our society. Is this what Jesus would cut?
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Evangelicals Push Back on Proposed Budget Cuts
(RNS) Balancing the federal budget at the expense of the poor would be un-Christian, evangelical leaders warned Congress.
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Israel Won’t Renew Permit for Jerusalem Bishop
JERUSALEM (RNS/ENInews) Israel has declined to renew a residency permit for Anglican Bishop Suheil Dawani of Jerusalem.
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World's Poor Lose Evangelical Help on Two Fronts
World's Poor Lose Evangelical Help on Two Fronts
Evangelicals don't really care about the world's impoverished. They want the federal government to cut back on economic assistance to the poor, and their churches don't give two cents about the world's hungry.
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How Do You Define Right-Wing Conservatives?
How Do You Define Right-Wing Conservatives?
What's the definition of a right-wing conservative? According to the Heritage Foundation's website, part of the definition means "fighting liberals." For those who long for a civil society, that seems repulsive.
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Wisconsin Dispute Exposes Catholic Split on Unions
(RNS) The fierce budget battle in Wisconsin has pitted the state’s top Roman Catholic bishops against each other.
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How the United States Can Find Its Voice Again
How the United States Can Find Its Voice Again
Two extended wars and an unregulated banking system have just about brought the United States to its knees. Not a bad place to be if you happen to be a person of faith, but a tough place if you're part of a people of pride.
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If Obama Won’t Fight Gay Marriage, Conservatives Will
WASHINGTON (RNS) If President Obama no longer wants to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, who will?
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Catholic Bishops Back Wis. Union Protesters
WASHINGTON (RNS) The U.S. Catholic bishops threw their moral weight behind the pro-union protesters in Wisconsin.
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Budget Cuts Target the Poor, Faith Groups Say
(RNS) Get ready for more undernourished infants, dangerously cold homes and disease-stricken communities in developing countries.
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At 89, Civil Rights Icon Reflects on Faith, Activism
(RNS) The Rev. Joseph Lowery has always combined his work on secular causes with a sacred message.
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National Debt is New Hot Issue for Evangelicals
WASHINGTON (RNS) Many economists warn that the government’s huge national debt is a looming threat to long-term prosperity.
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In Italian Sex Scandal, Vatican Caught in a Bind
VATICAN CITY (RNS) No major leader has been a more stalwart ally than Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
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Love Your Enemy? What Was Jesus Thinking?
Love Your Enemy? What Was Jesus Thinking?
As the Sermon on the Mount reveals, Jesus understood how to undermine oppressive power. So how do we apply Jesus' teachings in the U.S. when we more closely resemble the oppressor than the oppressed?
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Grassroots Group Pressure King on Muslim Hearings
WASHINGTON (RNS) Peter King is facing grassroots pressure to cancel his planned hearings on the “radicalization” of U.S. Muslims.
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Egypt’s Christians Keep Wary Eye on Muslim Brotherhood
CAIRO (RNS) In Magdi Shnouda’s cafe the men playing backgammon are a mixture of Christians and Muslims.
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Towey Named President of Ave Maria University
(RNS) Tom Monaghan has stepped down from leading the conservative Catholic university he founded.
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In Soggy Netherlands, a Modern Noah Builds His Ark
UTRECHT, Netherlands (RNS/ENInews) In the Netherlands a modern Noah is constructing an ark.
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Why Christians Shouldn't Flee From Public Schools
Why Christians Shouldn't Flee From Public Schools
Some segments of the Christian community believe public schools are waging war on their faith. Instead of fleeing, Christians should work with others to provide every child access to the best education possible.
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Quebec Bans Sikh Daggers from Capitol
TORONTO (RNS) Lawmakers voted unanimously to ban the kirpan, a Sikh ceremonial dagger, from the legislature building.
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Consumer Protection Chief Seeks Allies in Faith Leaders
WASHINGTON (RNS) The architect of the new consumer protection bureau met with faith-based groups.
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Imitate Christ? Let's Not Get Carried Away
Imitate Christ? Let's Not Get Carried Away
Some people, even Christians, don't want to imitate Christ. To do so would mean following his radical ethic of love, his call to nonviolence and his message about sharing with the poor and practicing forgiveness.
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Congressman Says He’s not Anti-Islam
WASHINGTON (RNS) A congressman said he is not anti-Muslim after saying Muslims represent the “antithesis” of American values.
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U.S. Marine for Christ Prompts Suit at Colo. Academy
WASHINGTON (RNS) Professors have filed suit to stop a school prayer luncheon headlined by a speaker who calls himself a “U.S. Marine for Christ.”
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How to Fulfill the Greatest Commandment
How to Fulfill the Greatest Commandment
The bold ethical challenge to love God and neighbor is reduced to a lowest common denominator of personal piety in many faith communities. But the biblical expectation laid on people of faith is to seek a just community.
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Political Right's Perverted Liturgy: No Taxes
Political Right's Perverted Liturgy: No Taxes
Schools may falter, the elderly and ill may suffer and our children may be trapped in poverty, but none of that seems to sway the political right from its single-minded mantra of no taxes.
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Ala. Governor Apologizes for Brothers and Sisters Comment
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (RNS) Gov. Bentley apologized to anyone who was offended with his inaugural day comments that non-Christians were not his “brothers and sisters.”
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Update: Fla. Pastor Formally Banned from U.K.
LONDON (RNS) A Florida pastor who sparked fury when he threatened to burn a pile of Qurans has been officially banned from Britain.
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Report Exposes British Evangelicals' Differences
Report Exposes British Evangelicals' Differences
A survey revealed that British evangelicals have differences on several key moral and social issues, including assisted suicide, evolution and women in ministry.
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Ala. Governor Says only Christians Are his Brothers and Sisters
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (RNS) Newly sworn-in Gov. Robert Bentley said that people who aren’t “saved” Christians aren’t his brothers and sisters.
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Religious Leaders Praise new Obama Policy on Cuba
WASHINGTON (RNS) Faith leaders are hailing a change in White House policy that reduces limits on religious travel to Cuba.
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Poll: Americans of All Faiths See a Civility Problem in U.S. Politics
(RNS) Americans agree on one thing: our political system has a civility problem.
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Faith-Based Programs – No Magical Cure
Faith-Based Programs – No Magical Cure
Supporters of faith-based programs would argue that religious groups are better suited than the government to deliver social services. But faith is not a magical social ointment; it is a way of living in relationship with God.
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Clergy Urge Congress to Unite Behind Push for Civility
(RNS) A coalition sent an open letter urging a “time of soul searching” and national dialogue about “violent and vitriolic political rhetoric.”
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Jews Troubled by Palin’s Use of Blood Libel
(RNS) Sarah Palin accused “journalists and pundits” of manufacturing a “blood libel” that seeks to link her and other conservatives to the massacre.
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Time to Call Out Strident Rhetoric of Extremists
Time to Call Out Strident Rhetoric of Extremists
Freedom of speech has always given rise to extremists who abuse that freedom. When rhetoric turns violent, we need to do something about it. It's time to tone down the rhetoric and find a way to work together.
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Civility Project Disbands after Low Interest in Congress
WASHINGTON (RNS) The Civility Project is closing down after just three members of Congress agreed to the project’s pledge.
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Social Gospel Squares with Jesus' Teachings
Social Gospel Squares with Jesus' Teachings
Is the gospel purely personal, having only to do with individual salvation and life after death? Or is there a social component to the gospel? Does Jesus' message say anything about economics and politics?
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Religious Profile of 112th Congress Remains Stable
WASHINGTON (RNS) The midterm elections did little to alter the religious composition of Capitol Hill.
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Hopes – Not Resolutions – For the New Year
Hopes – Not Resolutions – For the New Year
Many of us make resolutions for the chance to make things better than they were. In addition to our personal resolutions, let's commit ourselves to a few hopes for our nation and our world in the new year.
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Jewish Groups Have Mixed Feelings on Highest-ranking Jew in Congress
WASHINGTON (RNS) When Virginia Republican Eric Cantor becomes House Majority Leader next month, he will become the highest-ranking Jewish member of Congress in history.
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Christmas Prayer Confesses Our Love of Violence
Christmas Prayer Confesses Our Love of Violence
The birth of Jesus represents the supreme effort on God's part to reshape our flawed humanity back into his own image. If we would only accept as true the things Jesus had to say to us, what a different world this might be.
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Catholic Bishops, Evangelicals Praise START Treaty
(RNS) The U.S. Catholic bishops and other Christian groups are hailing the Senate’s ratification of a treaty with Russia.
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Why 'E Pluribus Unum' Is a Better National Motto
Why 'E Pluribus Unum' Is a Better National Motto
President Obama drew criticism for saying "E Pluribus Unum" rather than "In God We Trust" is the national motto. While Congress OK'd "In God We Trust" as a knee-jerk reaction to McCarthyism, Obama knows his history.
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Religious Leaders Join White House in Dream Act Push
WASHINGTON (RNS) Supporters are calling it a moral solution to help students hurt by the country’s immigration system.
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U.S. Jews, Evangelicals Help Israel Rebuild After Fires
JERUSALEM (RNS) American Jews and evangelical Christians are taking a central role in rebuilding the Carmel region in northern Israel.
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Black Church Group Criticizes Congressional Tax Cuts
WASHINGTON (RNS) The Conference criticized Congress for linking extension of unemployment benefits to tax cuts for the wealthy.
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When Joy is Hard to Find During Christmas
When Joy is Hard to Find During Christmas
The losses we carry seem heavier for some reason when the Christmas lights go up and the music begins. Without denying our sadness, we can choose to give the joy of the moment its proper place.
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Survey: Typical Atheist is White Son of Religious Parents
WASHINGTON (RNS) The typical member of a fast-growing atheist association is a highly educated, married white male who grew up with religious parents.
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Religious Groups Rally Behind Traditional Marriage
(RNS) A rare coalition of religious leaders released a public letter promoting traditional marriage.
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Why the Christmas Season is Like Lucy the Camel
Why the Christmas Season is Like Lucy the Camel
During Christmas we sing about peace on earth and deliver food and clothing to the poor. All that changes after the holiday. The meaning of Christmas is a lot like Lucy the Camel – trotted out a few days every year for show.
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Conservatives Push Apple to Restore Manifesto App
WASHINGTON (RNS) Conservative Christians are biting mad that an app for their manifesto has been plucked from Apple’s store.
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Why Retail Stores Are Where We Really Worship
Why Retail Stores Are Where We Really Worship
Why all the hullabaloo when retail store employees proclaim "Happy Holidays" to shoppers? Pressuring retail outlets to say "Merry Christmas" does nothing to advance the meaning of Christmas.
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How Do We Live Out God's Will on Earth?
How Do We Live Out God's Will on Earth?
When we pray for God's will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven, how in heaven's name can we ever know what that would look like? The question of what God wants has an answer in the writings of the prophet Micah.
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Half of Americans say Obama Holds Different Religious Values
WASHINGTON (RNS) President Obama faces significant challenges on how Americans perceive his religious faith.
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When Christians Favor Retribution Over Forgiveness
When Christians Favor Retribution Over Forgiveness
Most Americans feel the need for more forgiveness in their lives yet many of them believe some behaviors can't be forgiven. Perhaps we can't experience forgiveness because we won't grant it to others.
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Muslim Advocacy Group Sues over Okla. Shariah Ban
(RNS) A Muslim advocacy group filed suit saying a just-passed amendment forbidding judicial use of Islamic law is unconstitutional.
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Blessed Are The Poor? Jesus Can't Be Serious
Blessed Are The Poor? Jesus Can't Be Serious
Some believe the needs of the poor are draining away our meager resources and that people are poor because of bad choices or sinful lives. So why does Jesus tell us that the poor are blessed?
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Faith Groups Press Geithner on Foreclosures
WASHINGTON (RNS) A national network of faith-based organizations urged him to tackle problems with fraudulent foreclosures.
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Obama to Visit Largest Mosque in Indonesia
(RNS) President Obama plans to visit one of the world’s largest mosques during his trip to Indonesia in November.
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Are Midterm Elections Merely a Game to Win?
Are Midterm Elections Merely a Game to Win?
As the midterm elections near, we might wonder whether our political drama has become a game rather than theater – a contest to be won rather than a reflection of who we are and of what life is at its deepest levels.
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In Middle East, Religion Has Added to the Conflict
In Middle East, Religion Has Added to the Conflict
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a political issue and should be worked out using political and diplomatic resources, not theological debate. Religion, in this case, has contributed more to the problem rather than the solution.
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Southern Baptist Pastor Appeals Suit over Obama’s Birth
(RNS) Southern Baptist gadfly Wiley Drake will appeal a court’s dismissal of his suit claiming President Obama was not born in the U.S.
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Hoping to Avert Disaster, Democrats Turn to Black Churches
WASHINGTON (RNS) Democrats are turning to a key part of their base—African-Americans—and are using the black church to help get voters to the polls.
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Survey: 6 in 10 Protestant Pastors Disapprove of Obama
WASHINGTON (RNS) Six out of every 10 Protestant pastors say they disapprove of President Obama’s job performance, a LifeWay Research survey found.
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Palin Keeps Mum on Faith
(RNS) Sarah Palin once pursued politics out of a religious sense of calling.
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Why Young Adults Reject Conservative Christianity
Why Young Adults Reject Conservative Christianity
Two political science experts warned that young people are rejecting conservative Christianity – and in big numbers. Many have been turned away by the politics of anti-homosexuality.
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ACLU Questions Sunday Morning Voting at Churches
WASHINGTON (RNS) The ACLU is criticizing plans by two Iowa churches to host early voting during worship services.
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Evangelicals Regret Chinese Delegates Banned from Travel
CAPE TOWN(RNS/ENInews) The WEA expressed disappointment after China prohibited a delegation of some 200 Christians from traveling.
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Chilean Archbishop Booted from Top Anglican Panel
(RNS) Chile’s top Anglican bishop has become collateral damage in the border wars between the Episcopal Church and conservatives overseas.
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The Real Tragedy of State-Sanctioned Gambling
The Real Tragedy of State-Sanctioned Gambling
Those who oppose gambling as a moral concern need to help legislators have the backbone necessary to reform our tax system and raise adequate taxes for schools and other services.
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American Shariah? That’s News to Muslims
(RNS) Rep. Duncan expects his “Save Our State” referendum to keep Islamic law out of state courts to pass easily on Nov. 2.
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Behind Colbert’s Right-wing Funny Man, a Quiet Faith
(RNS) When comedian Stephen Colbert came to Capitol Hill and stole the spotlight, no one was more surprised than lawmakers.
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Critics Waiting for Action from Faith-based Office
WASHINGTON (RNS) Some critics say the office has been used to push the president’s health care reform.
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Judge: Methodist Agency Can Lobby on Issues Besides Temperance
WASHINGTON (RNS) The United Methodist Church’s public policy agency can advocate on causes beyond alcoholism and temperance.
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Tax Exemption – Not a Right But a Privilege
Tax Exemption – Not a Right But a Privilege
An Oklahoma pastor intentionally broke the law by endorsing a candidate for governor from the pulpit. Nothing prohibits churches from endorsing candidates – as long as they are willing to give up their tax-exempt privilege.
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Understanding the Lost Politics of Jesus
Understanding the Lost Politics of Jesus
One of the great losses to Christianity over the past few decades is an adequate understanding of Jesus' politics. Jesus wanted his followers to have an identity based on the values of God's kingdom rather than Caesar's empire.
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Methodist Agency Drops Support of One Nation Rally
WASHINGTON (RNS) A United Methodist agency has withdrawn its endorsement from this weekend’s One Nation Working Together rally.
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Religious Groups Join Progressives’ March
WASHINGTON (RNS) Faith-based organizations are teaming up with secular and progressive groups for this weekend’s One Nation Working Together rally.
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Interfaith Group Urges U.S. to Press for Middle East Agreement
(RNS) A broad coalition of U.S. Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders has backed the administration’s efforts to broker peace.
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Mich. Attorney General Defends Campaign Against Gay Student
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (RNS) An assistant attorney general in Michigan is defending his rights to denounce the openly gay student.
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Candidate's Bogus Claim: Hitler Favored Church-State Separation
Candidate's Bogus Claim: Hitler Favored Church-State Separation
A GOP candidate for the U.S. House claimed Hitler was the inventor, or at least the champion, of separating church and state, but it's not true. Hitler sought to nationalize the Christian church.
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Even Those in Authority
The Apostle Paul, in writing to his young colleague Timothy, encourages him to pray for everybody, including those in authority.
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Taking a Page from the Prophet Ezekiel about Society's False Shepherds
Taking a Page from the Prophet Ezekiel about Society's False Shepherds
American Christians are living in a divisive time of profound paranoia and deliberate deception – much of it advanced by Christian politicians, those the prophet Ezekiel might identify as the false shepherds.
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Indiana Rep. Mike Pence Wins Values Voter Straw Poll
WASHINGTON (RNS) Rep. Mike Pence was the surprise winner of a straw poll among 17 possible Republican presidential candidates.
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Romania Church Leaders Condemn Roma Deportations
WARSAW (RNS/ENInews) A Catholic bishop in Romania has deplored the mass expulsion of Roma from France.
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Skateboarder an Overnight Sensation After Rescuing Quran
(RNS) Muslim Americans and their allies have found an unexpected reason to smile.
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Religious Freedom in U.S. is For Everyone, Not Some
Religious Freedom in U.S. is For Everyone, Not Some
Angry protests over an Islamic center near Ground Zero. A Florida pastor threatens to burn the Quran. If we don't guarantee religious freedom for all, we betray the genius that lies behind the U.S. Constitution.
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Report Finds Spike in U.S. Poverty Levels
WASHINGTON (RNS) The number of people in poverty in America increased to its highest recorded point last year.
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Ga. Church Named Nation’s Fastest-Growing
(RNS) A megachurch in Lawrenceville, Ga., was named the fastest-growing Protestant church in America.
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Early End to Daylight Saving Time Frustrates Israelis
JERUSALEM (RNS) The government’s decision to end daylight saving time early has set off an angry debate.
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Obama Rumors? Beck as Moses? Catching Up After Time Off
Obama Rumors? Beck as Moses? Catching Up After Time Off
During 13 weeks of sabbatical, it was hard not to write about a provocative news story or someone in religious life doing something bizarre. Now, with the R&R over, several things really need to be addressed.
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Obama Denounces Quran Burning
(RNS) President Obama has added his voice to a chorus of critics condemning a Florida pastor’s plans to burn Qurans.
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Heaven Trumps Hell in Canadian Poll
TORONTO (RNS) “Hell is a half-filled auditorium,” wrote the poet Robert Frost.
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Don't Let Political Campaigns Shape Your Life
Don't Let Political Campaigns Shape Your Life
Political campaigns thrive on negative advertising, tearing down their opponents rather than focusing on their own ideas. We cannot allow our society to persuade us that it's OK to destroy or devalue another person.
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Conservative Groups Push Against Hiring Rules in Federal Funding
WASHINGTON (RNS) A coalition of religious organizations is urging Congress to amend a proposed bill.
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Conservative Lutherans to Form New Church Body
(RNS/ENInews) Conservative Lutherans are forming a new church body they say will “uphold confessional principles.”
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Conservatives Claim Victory as Judge Halts Stem Cell Funding
WASHINGTON (RNS) Conservative Christian groups won a victory when a judge halted federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.
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A 'Transformative Moment' in SBC Political Activity
A 'Transformative Moment' in SBC Political Activity
Ronald Reagan, then the GOP nominee for president, joined a who's who of conservative Christians on a Dallas stage 30 years ago, convincing many Southern Baptists and other evangelicals to join the Republican cause.
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Polls: One in four Americans Thinks Obama’s a Muslim
WASHINGTON (RNS) Two new polls say as many as one in four Americans mistakenly believe President Obama is a Muslim.
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Hispanic Leaders Warn GOP on Repealing Birthright Citizenship
WASHINGTON (RNS) Hispanic evangelical leaders said Republican proposals could erode support from Hispanic voters.
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Fight over N.Y. Mosque Becomes a Partisan Wedge issue for Obama, GOP
WASHINGTON (RNS) What started as a local zoning debate about an Islamic center has now turned into an election-year political brawl.
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Religious Leaders Blast Gingrich, Palin on New York Mosque
WASHINGTON (RNS) More than 40 Christian leaders say they are deeply troubled by the opposition to a proposed mosque.
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Are You Evangelical? Or Just evangelical?
Are You Evangelical? Or Just evangelical?
While the term 'evangelical' has many applications, some have hijacked the word, when it's capitalized, to denote an identifiable movement in Christian history known more for its political positions than its doctrine.
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Thirty Years of Baptist Religious-Political Attacks
Thirty Years of Baptist Religious-Political Attacks
Thirty years ago, Baliey Smith, then Southern Baptist Convention president, stood in the Oval Office and attacked Jimmy Carter's religious beliefs because of political differences. Today, Baptists continue to follow that model.
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Religious Groups Press for CIA Torture Probe
WASHINGTON (RNS) Religious organizations are calling for an investigation into allegations of forced human experimentation.
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Evangelicals Condemn Planned Quran Burning
(RNS) The NAE has condemned plans by a Florida church to burn copies of the Quran.
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GOP Candidates Play the 'God Card'
GOP Candidates Play the 'God Card'
As the 2010 midterm elections heat up, several GOP candidates have invoked God to support their campaigns and attack their political opponents. One even said his opponent was trying to take away the freedom "to find ... salvation."
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Baptist Attacks Fail on Candidate's Religion
Baptist Attacks Fail on Candidate's Religion
After facing weeks of personal attacks, including questions about her conversion to Christianity, Nikki Haley, who grew up Sikh, easily captured the Republican nomination for South Carolina governor.
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Can Conservative Evangelicals Be Radical Believers?
Can Conservative Evangelicals Be Radical Believers?
Evangelicalism has sometimes appeared to be static, harsh, judgmental and unforgiving. We have to face up to the fact that the church is increasingly irrelevant in people's lives. Will evangelicals change?
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Radical Generosity: Normal for Christian Community
Radical Generosity: Normal for Christian Community
When the early Christians gave up their possessions for the good of others, it was more than an expression of genuine generosity. They modeled the norm for Christian identity and community.
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Even Columnists Need to Take a Sabbath
Even Columnists Need to Take a Sabbath
The Sabbath is a time of rest and reflection. It's a chance to connect with God and a time to reflect on what it means to be a human being in this world God has made.
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 Part 2: Carter's Steady Pursuit of Peace, Justice
Part 2: Carter's Steady Pursuit of Peace, Justice
After leaving the White House, President Jimmy Carter decided to put his faith and his political visibility to work in the cause of justice, promoting democracy in places no one dreamed democracy was even possible.
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Part 1: Jimmy Carter Melded Religion, Politics
Part 1: Jimmy Carter Melded Religion, Politics
Jimmy Carter made being "born again" a campaign issue in 1976, vowing that his faith would help him govern. In the aftermath of Watergate, the American people were looking for someone they could trust.
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What's Your Ministry Model? Scarcity or Abundance
What's Your Ministry Model? Scarcity or Abundance
Two philosophical styles play out in most churches. One is concerned with the preservation of the material assets and the status quo. The other is more focused on information and ideas. Where are you?
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The Trouble With God? It's Not What You Think.
The Trouble With God? It's Not What You Think.
Some people wonder whether God exists. Others struggle with why He allows suffering. But did you ever think life would be far less aggravating if we did not have to take God into account?
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Enforcing Commandments as Law of Land
Enforcing Commandments as Law of Land
Sarah Palin says the law in America should be based on the Ten Commandments. While some parts of the Law of Moses are the law of the land, enforcing the others are going to be tricky.
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Muslim Stories About Obama, Seminary Leader
Muslim Stories About Obama, Seminary Leader
Some people believe that President Obama is a secret Muslim no matter how much evidence exists about his faith in Christ. Meanwhile, Liberty University's president appears to have exaggerated his Muslim roots.
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Ten Commandments: On Hearts, Yes; Buildings, No
Ten Commandments: On Hearts, Yes; Buildings, No
As Americans debate whether or not the Ten Commandments should be posted in schools and government buildings, some Christians should make sure the ninth commandment is written on their hearts.
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National Day of Prayer: Facts and Fiction
National Day of Prayer: Facts and Fiction
As the National Day of Prayer approaches this Thursday, let's correct a few distortions. President Obama, for example, is not trying to cancel the day. That's a rumor rooted in the nonsense that he's not a Christian.
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How Preachers Earn the Role of Prophet
How Preachers Earn the Role of Prophet
One of the most precarious tasks a preacher faces is that of being a prophet. Being prophetic is part of a healthy sermon diet; it cannot be the only item on the menu.
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Obeying God's Word – When It Suits Them
Obeying God's Word – When It Suits Them
When Baptist leaders explain how they can justify banning women preachers, they often shrug and say that's what God's word says. By selectively embracing the Bible literally, they are impeding God's working in our world.
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Faith and Science: Not an Either/Or Choice
Faith and Science: Not an Either/Or Choice
Can the Bible be read seriously without being read literally? The unnecessary conflict between faith and science is wreaking havoc on both faith and science.
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Defeating Racism at the Spiritual Level
Defeating Racism at the Spiritual Level
While racial discrimination is no longer legal, we've got a long way to go. As a spiritual disorder, racism is so deeply rooted in us that nothing short of a conversion experience can change a person's mind and heart.
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Fewer Ministers Plan to Serve in Churches
Fewer Ministers Plan to Serve in Churches
Churches in America may be facing a dramatic shortage of ministers in the coming years. Less than a third of students now attending seminary intend to minister to congregations.
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Why We Still Choose Barabbas Today
Why We Still Choose Barabbas Today
The Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, made a show each year at the Passover of releasing one prisoner as a goodwill gesture. One year, he had two candidates: Barabbas and Jesus. Even today, we make the wrong choice.
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Hijacking Faith to Fit Science, Politics
Hijacking Faith to Fit Science, Politics
Redefining faith as scientific truth or political ideology subordinates faith to these other realities. Out of a desire to have faith validated and affirmed by wider culture, some are allowing their beliefs to be hijacked.
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Socialism? No, It's Being Good Neighbors
Socialism? No, It's Being Good Neighbors
It's time and past time to lay aside our paranoia about government and figure out how we are going to care for the poor, the sick and weak in our midst. That's not socialism; it's neighborly-ism.
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When Church and State Should Interact
When Church and State Should Interact
Separating church from state does not mean our public life should be void of faith. Since the days of the biblical prophets, the voice of faith has called for justice and peace in our common existence.
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Opposing Gambling for Wrong Reason
Opposing Gambling for Wrong Reason
Alabama's governor is on a crusade against gambling, but is it for the right reason? Do Christians oppose gambling because they want to control bad behavior or because it preys on the poor?
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 This Old House: A Constitution-Reform Parable
This Old House: A Constitution-Reform Parable
Once, there was a village called Alabama. Its villagers learned that the house that protected their children, the elderly and the poor was old and needed repair. Read what happens in this modern-day parable.
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New Constitution Overdue for Alabama
New Constitution Overdue for Alabama
Once again, political leaders in Alabama have introduced bills to give the state's citizens a voice in rewriting the constitution. Similar efforts have failed in the past, even though it's past time for a new constitution.
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Left Turn: Some Evangelicals Shun Rigid Ideology
Left Turn: Some Evangelicals Shun Rigid Ideology
Are some evangelicals moving away from the political and theological right wing? The New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good seeks to be above ideology rather than subservient to it.
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 If You're Going to Preach, Be Like Buster
If You're Going to Preach, Be Like Buster
My grandfather had a certain contempt for preachers. When he learned I was going to become one, he begged me to reconsider. And when he realized I was determined, his advice was simple: Be like Buster.
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Where Is God When We Suffer?
Where Is God When We Suffer?
If God's all powerful, why wouldn't he stop suffering? If he's good, why would he allow it? As we view the devastating images from Haiti, these questions have no satisfying answer, but we must still ask.
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 Worship Should Be More Than Routine
Worship Should Be More Than Routine
Jesus' custom was to attend church but he broke the customary way to worship. Are we comfortable with worship that has become part of our routine or that compels us to change our communities?
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Who is Pat Robertson Hearing? GOD or GOP?
Who is Pat Robertson Hearing? GOD or GOP?
Every year, Pat Robertson proclaims what God has told him will happen in the coming year. But Robertson's batting average isn't good. Maybe that's because instead of listening to GOD, he's more in tune with the GOP.
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British Government: Family Policy's Focus on Marriage
British Government: Family Policy's Focus on Marriage
The British government's new family policy will acknowledge the importance of marriage, highlighting how much better children fare if their parents stay together.
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Alabama Nonprofit Advocates for Poor
Alabama Nonprofit Advocates for Poor
What does it mean to do justice? Ask a nonprofit group like Alabama Arise. Its annual list of issues affecting the state's poor, coupled with strategies to address them, is a reflection on how to do justice.
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Seasonal Charity: A Doorway to Biblical Justice
Seasonal Charity: A Doorway to Biblical Justice
Poverty won't yield to charity alone. There aren't enough soup kitchens and shelters in the whole country to begin to make a dent in America's poverty. To make a difference, we need a commitment to justice.
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What Would Make Jesus Happy on His Birthday?
What Would Make Jesus Happy on His Birthday?
When Jesus looks at the earth at the time of year when many of us celebrate his birth, is he dismayed by the materialism and self-righteousness he sees? Maybe his thoughts would be something like this.
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Christmas Hymn Reminds Us Separation Won't Last
Christmas Hymn Reminds Us Separation Won't Last
Sobering words from a joyful Christmas hymn remind us of the divisions that have separated us since The Fall. Imagine if we were able to eliminate all the artificial distinctions that divide us.
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7 Things Your Pastor Wishes You Knew, But Is Afraid To Tell You
7 Things Your Pastor Wishes You Knew, But Is Afraid To Tell You
The interchange between clergy and laity can be a delicate balance. Pastors have a few things they wish congregants understood to help encourage healthier relationships. Here are seven.
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Just War Theory: A Time for Careful Evaluation
Just War Theory: A Time for Careful Evaluation
Just war theory goes back to the fourth-century theologian Augustine and was developed to help leaders carefully evaluate the circumstances before going to war. Are the wars we wage based on a just cause?
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Doesn't Add Up: Calculating Exactly How Many Are Saved
Doesn't Add Up: Calculating Exactly How Many Are Saved
A Kentucky Baptist official recently said that 2,587,995 Kentuckians "are lost without Christ." Can we really calculate the precise number of "lost" people? Or is this more evangelical arrogance?
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Who's the Real Enemy of Immigration Reform?
Who's the Real Enemy of Immigration Reform?
When it comes to meaningful immigration reform, the marginalized have more to fear from political allies, who often are quick to profess solidarity but slow when they fear votes could be lost. Shame on them.
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Advent is Most Satisfying Way to Celebrate Jesus' Birth
Advent is Most Satisfying Way to Celebrate Jesus' Birth
Many churches will mark the beginning of Advent on Sunday, a month-long reflection on the meaning of Jesus' birth. It's far more significant than simply encouraging retail outlets to say "Merry Christmas."
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Judge Hits the Brakes on Christian License Plates
Judge Hits the Brakes on Christian License Plates
A judge rules that South Carolina's plan to allow license plates that promoted Christianity was unconstitutional. It was the right call. After all, Jesus didn't say they shall know you by your advertising.
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Conservative Christians Dismiss Interfaith Dialogue as Inconsequential
Conservative Christians Dismiss Interfaith Dialogue as Inconsequential
Too many conservative evangelicals dismiss or avoid interfaith dialogue. However, the reality of the 21st century is that we live in a multifaith world. It's time to engage our neighbors.
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The Price of Greed: Desire for More Consumes Us
The Price of Greed: Desire for More Consumes Us
We were told in the 1980s that greed is good. However, greed makes us less human. In the anxious quest for more and more stuff, we become like the commodities we consume.
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Sharing God's Concern for Poor Means Fairer Taxes
Sharing God's Concern for Poor Means Fairer Taxes
Many people of faith are acutely aware of God's stance toward the poor. However, our expressions of charity alone will not suffice. We must change the very structures that overtax the poor.
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Greatness
The only way to face tomorrow is placing ourselves in the hands of the One who has told us – not three times, but thousands of times – that the only way to follow him is by way of sacrifice and service. If we will be willing to do that, though there is no guarantee where it will take us, we will know that we’re in very good company.
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The Dream Continues: More Work Needed to End Racism
The Dream Continues: More Work Needed to End Racism
Racial discrimination and segregation are no longer legal, but Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream of seeing a nation united rather than divided by race has not made as much progress. It's a spiritual problem.
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Living the Dream: Finding Purpose and Mission in Life
Living the Dream: Finding Purpose and Mission in Life
What's your idea of a dream life? Most of us think of a dream life as an upgrade in our circumstances, a life with fewer challenges and greater comfort and convenience. But is this God's dream for us?
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America Founded as Christian Nation? Author Busts Myth
America Founded as Christian Nation? Author Busts Myth
While Dan Brown's new novel may not be as controversial as "The da Vinci Code," the author seems determined to annihilate the myth that America was founded as a Christian nation. He may be doing us a favor.
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Bible Too Liberal? Conservative Bible Project Will Fix It
Bible Too Liberal? Conservative Bible Project Will Fix It
The Conservative Bible Project believes modern translations of the Bible, and even some textual matters, are tainted with a liberal bias. Their plan is to rewrite the Bible so it reflects a more conservative viewpoint.
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Dearly Departed: The Separation of Church and Jesus
Dearly Departed: The Separation of Church and Jesus
Minorities in church. Rushing to war. Alleviating poverty. For some Christians, certain areas of life are simply too important to run the risk of Jesus meddling with them.
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Can't We Steal a Little Money to Pay for Health Care?
Can't We Steal a Little Money to Pay for Health Care?
I have written a few columns suggesting that health-care reform is a moral imperative. One reader said I was promoting the idea of the government stealing our money. Let's think about that.
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When Calamity Strikes: Is God Our Punisher or Healer?
When Calamity Strikes: Is God Our Punisher or Healer?
Some ministers are quick to see God's judgment in calamity, but they work from an incomplete picture of God. As a result, they teach too many people to live under God's scorn rather than his grace.
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Stance Against Health Care Resurrects Religious Right
Stance Against Health Care Resurrects Religious Right
The Religious Right was in tatters last year, but health-care reform has given these religious naysayers, posing as spokespersons for Jesus, something new to which they can say "no."
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The Last Word: Controlling Translations of the Bible
The Last Word: Controlling Translations of the Bible
The New International Version Bible is set for an update, and a translation battle is brewing. Whoever controls the words used in a translation controls how we are able to think about theological issues.
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Who Needs Police? Law Says People Must Trust God
Who Needs Police? Law Says People Must Trust God
A judge rightly struck down a Kentucky law that said its citizens could only be safe unless they believed in God. Why do people write into law what can only be embraced by faith?
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Tax-Reform Advocate Running for State Office
Tax-Reform Advocate Running for State Office
A nationally known tax expert who has made headlines, and enemies, for her tax-reform suggestions, which advocated shifting more tax burdens away from the poor, is running for office in Alabama.
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Who's Going To Be the Anti-Christ Today?
Who's Going To Be the Anti-Christ Today?
In the '70s, author Hal Lindsey pegged the Soviet Union as the agent of the anti-Christ. But the Soviet Union fell, and Christian doomsayers eventually made Islam their new anti-Christ.
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American Christian Missions: Tour Guides or Conquerors?
American Christian Missions: Tour Guides or Conquerors?
Kudzu has choked the southeastern United States since it was first introduced here. Has most mission work by American Christianity behaved like out-of-control kudzu?
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What's Really Motivating Angry Town-Hall Mobs?
What's Really Motivating Angry Town-Hall Mobs?
Members of Congress holding town hall meetings on health care reform are being shouted down by angry mobs of constituents. Pure paranoia? Not really. It's displaced racism.
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Steeple Chase: Sparrow's Lesson in Beating the Odds
Steeple Chase: Sparrow's Lesson in Beating the Odds
Against the odds, a small sparrow protecting her young took on a turkey vulture perched on a church steeple. May we have the same sacrificial courage.
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Clergy Letter Project: Science, Bible Can Co-Exist
Clergy Letter Project: Science, Bible Can Co-Exist
The Clergy Letter Project began when a biologist and several clergy wrote a statement affirming the teaching of evolution. Nearly 12,000 Christian clergy have now signed the letter.
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Diverse Faith Groups Rally for Health Care
Diverse Faith Groups Rally for Health Care
While the clock is ticking on President Obama's health care reform plan, a strong push in support of reform is coming from a diverse coalition of faith communities.
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Hate Crimes Bill Won't Restrict Sermons
Hate Crimes Bill Won't Restrict Sermons
A pending hate crimes bill is causing some Christian conservatives to fret, but there's no reason to fear that preachers' right to speak freely will be restricted.
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Defining Words' Meaning is Path to Control
Defining Words' Meaning is Path to Control
Humpty Dumpty's smarter than we think. To win control, you need to be the one to define what words mean – even if you have to take them out of context.
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Bringing God Home
The new king of the unified kingdom brought the Ark home and in doing so, brought the presence of God home too. But as much of a cause for celebration it was, as much of a national victory it was, it only highlighted the internal strife of David’s private life with Michal, his political wife whom he couldn’t quite trust enough to love. And no matter how much she loved him she couldn’t move his heart to love her in return.
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The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama
The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama
Gwen Ifill's book examines the new generation of black political leaders seeking to build futures for themselves and the people they serve in innovative ways.
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Baptists: Muslims Part of Extended Family
Baptists: Muslims Part of Extended Family
Baptists should approach Muslims with compassion and friendship. The first step in showing genuine love for another person is to accept them as they are.
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 Independence Day: When Poverty Loosened Grip on Family
Independence Day: When Poverty Loosened Grip on Family

Grills will smoke and fireworks will pop as Americans celebrate Independence Day this weekend. Ten years ago, a poor family from Mexico celebrated a different kind of independence day.

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Biblical Literalism, Free-Market Ideology and Anti-Science Are Political Trinity
Biblical Literalism, Free-Market Ideology and Anti-Science Are Political Trinity
Global-warming denier Rep. Paul Broun is among the evangelical Christian politicians who adhere to a trinity of biblical literalism, free-market ideology and hostility toward science that endangers the common good.
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America as Melting Pot? We're Really More of a Tossed Salad
America as Melting Pot? We're Really More of a Tossed Salad
America has been described as a melting pot, a place where people from diverse backgrounds merge into one. However, we are often more like a tossed salad, with unique pieces of cultural heritage clearly visible and intact.
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 Would a Baptist Church by Any Other Name Smell as Sweet?
Would a Baptist Church by Any Other Name Smell as Sweet?
Some churches have removed Baptist from their names, but others seek to reclaim the meaning of the name. Many principles of historical Baptist theology and polity offer a solid basis for citizenship in a free and diverse society.
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Pastor and Former SBC Vice Pres Prays for President's Death
Pastor and Former SBC Vice Pres Prays for President's Death
Wiley Drake, former second vice president of the SBC, let it be known that he was praying for President Obama to die. Is praying for someone's death consistent with the values and truth that Jesus embodied in his life and ministry?
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Absolute Religious Rhetoric Leads to Violent Behavior
Absolute Religious Rhetoric Leads to Violent Behavior
It's tempting to dismiss the murder of Dr. George Tiller as the behavior of a deranged person, but the highly charged religious rhetoric that informs much of the pro-life movement will not allow for that explanation alone.
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A Bible for America Reveals Spiritual Arrogance and Ignorance
A Bible for America Reveals Spiritual Arrogance and Ignorance
"The American Patriot's Bible" places Scripture alongside American history. Millions of Christians, however, aren't Americans. It is arrogant to think America commands some unique position in relation to the Christian message.
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Audacity of Faith: Reflection on Election of Barack Obama
Audacity of Faith: Reflection on Election of Barack Obama
America has come close to moments of racial reconciliation before, and in each instance the nation found a way or a reason to turn away from that opportunity. Will the election of Barack Obama be one more missed opportunity?
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Top 10 Reasons Not to Display the Ten Commandments
Top 10 Reasons Not to Display the Ten Commandments
Officials in White County, Georgia, placed the Ten Commandments on display in their courthouse with other historical documents. Here are 10 reasons why government displays of the Ten Commandments are a bad idea.
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Religious Resolution Distorts History about Nation's Founding
Religious Resolution Distorts History about Nation's Founding
The Congressional Prayer Caucus, a group of about 40 House Representatives, announced that it is introducing "America's Spiritual Heritage Resolution." A similar resolution has failed to gain traction in the past.
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All Too Often, We're Eager to Accept Bogus Info at Face Value
All Too Often, We're Eager to Accept Bogus Info at Face Value
What causes so many otherwise intelligent folk to ardently embrace and believe disinformation? Perhaps it's because these little nuggets of lunacy serve as proof that their view of the world is absolutely right.
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Who Do We Really Worship? Prince of Peace or Tsar of Torture
Who Do We Really Worship? Prince of Peace or Tsar of Torture
Something is seriously wrong with American Christianity when more than half of white evangelicals believe that torture is often or sometimes justified. No matter how we try to manipulate the Scriptures, we simply can never reconcile Christ with torture.
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Evangelicals' Support of Torture Reveals Double Failure
Evangelicals' Support of Torture Reveals Double Failure
Nearly 62 percent of white evangelical Christians believe that torturing suspected terrorists is often or sometimes justified, marking the failure of two great traditions that at one time were the foundation of American society.
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Christians Have No Reason to Fear Public Education
Christians Have No Reason to Fear Public Education
Many parents, especially Christians, are convinced that public schools are waging war on their values. While some have turned to home schooling, a case can be made for Christians to keep their children in public schools.
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I Myself
But when the pains of contractions begin there is a complete and utter disruption of life-as-usual. Chaos prevails, not order. Panic, not reason. Other plans have been made; they’ll have to be pushed aside. Something larger and stronger – something inevitable and unchangeable – is now in charge. The birth will occur – not neatly, not logically or in straightforward fashion – but in “messy waves of fear and pain, plateaus of waiting and spikes of recognition and joy that culminate in new life.”
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McCain's Strategist: GOP Should Support Gay Marriage
McCain's Strategist: GOP Should Support Gay Marriage
The Republican strategist who ran John McCain's presidential campaign says supporting gay marriage fits with the party's belief in personal responsibility. How Christian conservatives will react is far from clear.
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Finding a Church is Never Easy, Especially if You're President
Finding a Church is Never Easy, Especially if You're President
Searching for a church home is a big decision. It's even tougher when the entire nation's watching you. No matter what church the First Family joins, for some it will be the wrong choice. Maybe we should let them worship in peace.
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God's Comeback: Editors Claim Rise in Faith Will Help Economy
God's Comeback: Editors Claim Rise in Faith Will Help Economy
Fewer Americans claiming to be Christian may reflect a move away from church politics and denominationalism. Despite the downward trend, two economists say a return to faith is near and will be good for business.
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Some Christians 'Dress Up' Jesus to Match Their Politics
Some Christians 'Dress Up' Jesus to Match Their Politics
Many little girls and boys like to play dress-up. While we all outgrow this childhood desire, too many adult Christians will "dress up" Jesus to align with their political preferences.
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Palm Sunday's Lesson: Jesus Doesn't Fit Our Mold
Palm Sunday's Lesson: Jesus Doesn't Fit Our Mold
At the time of Jesus, Israel had been the pawn of one great kingdom or another for nearly 600 years. Those who hailed Jesus' arrival into Jerusalem with cloaks and tree branches hoped for a great king to set them free.
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Blogger Predicts Evangelicalism's Collapse Within Decade
Blogger Predicts Evangelicalism's Collapse Within Decade
Evangelicalism's fall is blamed on its overt identification with the political right and its insufficient roots in genuine faith.
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Alabama Voters May Have Their Say on Rewriting Constitution
Alabama Voters May Have Their Say on Rewriting Constitution
Alabama politicians have dodged the opportunity to allow Alabama voters to decide whether or not to hold a constitutional convention. This year may be different.
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Diversity Reigns Among So-Called Liberal Clergy
Diversity Reigns Among So-Called Liberal Clergy
Categorizing people by means of narrow labels is just another way of not having to think deeply about them.
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We Lost the Ideal of Collective Responsibility
We Lost the Ideal of Collective Responsibility
So long as we persist in holding on to the idea that government is some sort of alien power, is in fact our adversary, we will live as a nation divided against itself.
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Baptists Bet Casinos, not Taxes, Are Moral Issue
Baptists Bet Casinos, not Taxes, Are Moral Issue
Religious groups are more than eager to love their neighbors when it comes to regulating personal behavior. But when it comes time to take on the big issues of social and economic injustice, conservative Christians begin to sound more like a certain character in one of Jesus' parables.
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 Al Mohler Stokes Division with Comments on Evolution
Al Mohler Stokes Division with Comments on Evolution
This past week marked the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin. All across the country there were celebrations and denunciations—not by the same people, of course.
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Office of Faith-Based Initiatives Should Disappear
Office of Faith-Based Initiatives Should Disappear
For my part the office could simply go away. If we want to spend money to help people, then create the Office of Helping People in America, and then go do it. The work is not going to be any more effective if it is done under the auspices of a church or any less effective because it is being done by secular professionals.
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Baptists in Search of Unity
Baptists in Search of Unity
It is an ambitious and even audacious idea. But it is a hopeful one. For too long we have skirted the edges of disaster existing as "us and them." It's time, not just for Baptists, but for everyone, to find a way just to be us.
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Faith and Politics
For more than 25 years, the Christian Right has carefully constructed a political myth claiming that “GOP” stands for “God’s Only Party.” Conservative Christians quickly bought into the myth.
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God As Athletic Director
God As Athletic Director
The theology at work here goes something like this: When you win God is with you, but when you lose, you are on your own. Of course, it doesn't always work out so well for winners.
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Don’t Fritter Away Opportunity for New Creation
Don’t Fritter Away Opportunity for New Creation
Maybe more than doing an updated, imaginative and expanded version of Jesus’ call to his disciples, we need to listen again to what, cryptically stated, he said was at stake.
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See Neighbor As Kin or Nothing Will Change
Morale alone will not fix what is broken in our country. But without some sense of common purpose, some level of hope, some willingness to embrace our neighbor as our kin, nothing is going to change anyway.
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Want to Be Biblical? Approve Prayers at Inaugurations
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A Prayer for a New Day
May we pray, pray, pray and work, work, work to build a better tomorrow and welcome this world you have made and love to become all you have intended it to be.
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Inauguration Reminds Us of What Prayer Is, Isn’t
Prayer is not ceremonial. Prayers offered at public events like football games, graduations and presidential inaugurations are mere ceremony. They are prelude to something else that is the main event. If Jesus is right and prayer is actually a conversation we can have with God, then we have no business reducing it down to the level of a starter pistol at a foot race.
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Change Comes Slowly, but Surely
In November, Sen. Barack Obama entered into history as the first African American to be elected president of the United States. Next Tuesday he will take the oath of office and become the 44th president of our country.
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Faith Makeup of Congress Reflects That of Country
That diversity will be on full display as the 111th Congress convenes and begins its work. According to recent analysis by Congressional Quarterly and the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, the new Congress' religious diversity is significantly representative of the diversity that exists in the country as a whole.
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Honk If You Love Jesus
Late last month a federal judge issued a temporary order against the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles for issuing a faith-based car tag with the words "I Believe" featured prominently. The judge is of the opinion that the tag unconstitutionally promotes Christianity. The state attorney general disagrees, and so Jesus will have yet another day in court.
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Hopes and Prayers for the New Year
I am praying and hoping that we find a way to get our troops out of Iraq. I know I already said that, but we really need to get our folks home.
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A Christmas Prayer
The birth of Jesus represents the supreme effort on your part to re-shape our flawed humanity back into your own image. If we would only accept as true the things Jesus had to say to us, what a different world this might be.
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The Impulse to Silence Dissent
Silencing dissent is just about the most un-American, and un-Christian, thing imaginable. Our Constitution was written by a host of rowdy and intelligent dissenters. And nearly every hero of our faith started off as a dissenter.
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What the U.S. Recession Reveals About Leadership
Hardly anything has been reported about how religious leaders are responding to the economic crisis, or even their present failure to be as forceful on behalf of the vulnerable as they have tried to be when working to influence elections and boost the political clout of their religious constituencies.
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I Was Just Quoting Jesus
I recently wrote a column suggesting that as Christians we could do a better job finding ways to collectively provide assistance to the least of these among us. The responses were swift and angry. I was accused of distorting the Bible in order to advance a liberal socialist agenda. I thought I was just quoting Jesus.
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The Gospel of—or About—Jesus
The alternatives here are not between leaving Jesus in or out of the gospel picture. Jesus figures centrally in both options, but in much different roles. In one he is the decisive object of faith. In the other he is the decisive figure who points to the object of faith by his words and deeds and who invites others to be a part of the new thing that God is doing.
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A Question That Really Matters
If we are ever to find meaningful answers, we must stop asking meaningless questions.
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Analyzing the Religious Vote
Religion has played a pivotal role in every election in this country since 1976. That remains true for our most recent presidential race as well. Even though the U.S. Constitution does not allow a religious test for public office, religious voters put the full force of their faith to work in deciding who would get their vote.
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Libby Pardon Would Be Last Defining Act of Bush Presidency
Richard Nixon's presidency ended after Watergate in disgrace with his resignation. The Bush-Cheney presidency will end on a much more disgraceful note if Scooter Libby is pardoned.
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Financial Crisis Will Shape Long-Term Religious Ethos
A deeper and prolonged financial crisis will likely result in a survival-of-the-fittest scenario among local and national faith organizations, which, in turn, will reshape the religious ethos for years to come.
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Mind Your Manners
The apostle Paul saw genuine freedom not as the right to do what I want to do, but the responsibility to seek the well-being of others. Self-indulgence is the opposite of freedom.
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Responding to the Economic Crisis: Choosing Faith Over Fear
Chronic worry betrays something significant about Christ-followers--we don't really believe in the sustaining power of God in Jesus Christ. It shows we are "practical atheists" who say we believe in God, but when the chips are down really only believe in ourselves, our talents, our efforts.
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The Attitude of Gratitude
You probably never heard of Folliot Sandford Pierpoint. One beautiful spring day in 1864 Folliot was out walking the countryside, admiring the blue sky reflected in the ocean, the ambling Avon River with its brilliant array of flowers so striking. He was overwhelmed with what God had created. There in the fields he began to write a poem.
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Religious Liberty Contradictions in Supreme Court Case
Sekulow's arguments on behalf of Pleasant Grove City suggest that his legal focus is not really in protecting religious liberty but in promoting Christianity.
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Seasonal Mood Swings
Why only at the apex of our material pursuits do we suddenly notice our struggling neighbors? Could it be that our temporary bouts of charity are really efforts to atone for a life of meaningless consumption?
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Dear President-Elect: Prioritize Immigration Reform
How do you say "thank you" in Spanish? Appointing a few brown faces to your cabinet or to the Supreme Court is not the answer. We should not feel gratitude for something that should be the norm. You say thank you by not ignoring the number one reason we went out to the polls and voted.
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The South Must Awaken
Forty years after King's death, it is noteworthy that except for North Carolina and Virginia, voters in Southern states were not part of the dramatic voting that resulted in the election of Barack Obama as the next president of the United States.
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The Lord's Prayer Calls Us to Pray for God's Protection during Times of Testing
We recant our faith in practice when we fail to love our neighbors and our enemies, when we neglect the poor and oppressed, and when we use abusive power against others.
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China and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
China has a long way to go—economically, politically and morally—before it is able to celebrate the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
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Don't Perpetuate Economic Injustice
How can it be possible that so many people who claim allegiance to Jesus can be so complacent about the plight of the poor? How can they ignore what Jesus said about loving our neighbor?
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The Lord's Prayer Calls Us to Forgive Others as God Has Forgiven Us
Jesus does not command us to forgive others as an act to which we begrudgingly submit. Rather, Jesus understands the power of forgiveness to transform enemies into friends.
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The Myths of Transcending Race and Post-Racialism
Rather than speaking about a color-blind or "post-racial" society, the pundits and other observers of the Obama election should hope that it marks a society committed to "post-racism."
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Reverse Congo's Melancholy History
The Democratic Republic of Congo's problem is its wealth. It is the size of Western Europe, and it is quite staggeringly rich in diamonds, coal, oil, and coltan, an essential ingredient in mobile telephones.
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'Compassion, Justice and the Christian Life: Rethinking Ministry to the Poor'
Many of us who seek to minister to "the least of these" do so by giving our time, talents and funds. Sometimes we work in or donate to soup kitchens, clothes closets or other charitable ministries. Seldom do we realize that our compassionate response may be undermining the road to recovery for an individual or a community in need of redevelopment.
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See Gray in a World of Black and White
Methodists have historically had the ability to hold together the concerns of both liberals and conservatives, to preach both the evangelical and social gospels, and to attempt to understand and acknowledge the important positions deeply held by people on opposite sides of the theological or political divide, bringing them together in what some might call a "radical center."
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SBC Leader Holds Poor Record of Political Punditry
Throughout this election year, journalists have often asked for political insights from Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. He remains a key source for the media's understanding of evangelicals and politics, despite frequently offering inaccurate analysis.
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'The Politics of Jesus'
The Bible tells the story of God's desire for a different kind of world than presently exists in any generation or culture.
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The Audacity of Hope
Something of an awakening occurred among many of the faithful. It's almost as if scales fell from their eyes and they saw that they were not really being represented by conservative politicians so much as they were being pandered to by them.
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Theological Realism Is Needed about President Obama
President-elect Barack Obama is neither the messiah, nor the antichrist. He is first and foremost a politician, whose adoring adherents deny his feet of clay and demonizing opponents refuse to respect him. Hopes are too high; despair is too deep.
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Baptist Democrats Face Mixed Election Results (Updated)
Two Baptist Democrats faced mixed results yesterday in congressional races for seats that have been long held by Republicans.
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Jesus Calls Us to Pray for Bread for Today and the Coming Day
Jesus will break bread in the eschatological banquet and share with those oppressed by the social structures of the world.
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Is Obama a Christian?
Sen. Barack Obama is not a Christian, according to the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, an organization that claims advocacy for Christian religious liberty and opposition to anti-Christian bigotry.
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Dole Campaign Ad Targets 'Godless' Opponent (Updated)
Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.) ran an advertisement last week accusing her challenger of being in league with "godless Americans." The 30-second ad provoked a lawsuit, counter-ads and now a new ad from Dole, which appeared during Friday's lunch hour, seeking to clarify the real issue.
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Revisit the Mother of the Sons of Zebedee
My story begins with the Synoptic Problem. I hope you'll keep reading anyway.
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'Know: The Cross'
The cross for Jesus was doing whatever was necessary to fulfill what God had sent him to do. What he had sent him to do was to call us back to God, to heal our relationship with God, to restore where the breach had been, to take it away and make us at peace with God.
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Witnessing on Election Day
In the volatile and often virulent political climate of this election cycle, followers of Jesus would do well to remember times for quiet, peaceful and graceful witness.
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The Most Important Thing Jesus Said
A bunch of Pharisees descend on Jesus, trying to trick him into giving a wrong answer. This is "gotcha" journalism, first-century style.
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Vote Twice, at Least
Our county has such immense power, influence, and control over the lives of other nations and peoples that it would be unjust and irresponsible for individual Americans to vote only on their own self-identity and self interest within a national context.
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David's Advice for Presidential Candidates: Part Two
The David we find in 2 Samuel 11-20 is a man who loses focus, loses his leadership ability, and ultimately loses both his kingdom and much of his legacy.
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David's Advice for Presidential Candidates: Part One
Could our current presidential candidates learn anything from the biblical example of David, either before or after he became king?
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Halloween As Prelude to Christmas Demise
Halloween serves as a warning to those Christians who would gladly give over the particulars of their faith into the hands of culture.
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La. Governor Used State Funds to Attend Churches
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has been criticized for spending tens of thousands of dollars of state funds on helicopter flights to attend church services. At least one visit was to a Southern Baptist church where Jindal shared his testimony and spoke about campaigning.
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'Words and Deeds: The Stewardship of One's Talents'
A lot of preachers take Monday off. I know, I know, there's the old saw about how a preacher only works one day a week, so he not only takes Mondays off but the rest of the week as well. Boy, if I had a nickel for every time I've heard that one ...
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I Learned Redemption From Johnny Cash
I don't know about you, but just about everything I know about sin, salvation and redemption I learned from Johnny Cash.
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Revere God's Name in Word and Deed
The Lord's Prayer calls us to venerate the name of God in our discipleship.
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Election-Year Artifact: 'Same-Sex Unions and Child Sacrifice' Mailer
The real fear of the mailer's purveyors—which include Christians and Jews—is that the wrong choice in the voting booth Nov. 4 means Western civilization will die as we know it.
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When the Pursuit of Wealth Leaves Us Feeling Empty
Rev. Mark Woods, editor of Britain's Baptist Times, examines economics across the pond and "the glorification of greed in popular culture."
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Recapture Values That Reflect God
Do we love God and care about God's concerns? If not, then please defend your values legally, politically, or otherwise, but do not call them "Judeo-Christian." They are not.
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Faithful Leaders Call for High Moral Standards
Juxtaposing this image of accomplishment against the tears of a broken person and shattered family reveals the superficial nature of politics and leadership. Admissions of weakness are the death knell of a public servant. They are fodder for opponents to start a raging fire of public anger designed to raise new leaders.
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EthicsDaily.com DVD Wins Documentary Award at Black Film Festival
"Beneath the Skin: Baptists and Racism" won the award for best documentary at the International Black Film Festival of Nashville over the weekend.
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Christians Concerned About Bangladesh Elections
Washington, D.C. (BWA) -- Christians in the Muslim-majority country of Bangladesh are concerned about general elections in the South Asian country set for Dec. 18 and sub-district elections on Dec. 24 and 28.
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Don't Be 'Incurious'
How can one sit at the intersection of faith and life and not be curious?
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Overcome the Divide-and-Conquer Question
The gospel's adversaries are not interested in honest discussion or answers, but in trying to impugn or divide so as to marginalize believers.
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Stop Manipulating Prayer for Sectarian Division
Given the tendency for public prayer to degenerate into religious grandstanding and arrogance, it's no wonder Jesus instructed the bulk of our prayer to be accomplished in private.
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'Is God Too Nice?'
I believe this parable uses a business analogy to point out how extravagant and important grace is.
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Ordinary Citizens Model Civil Discourse
A strange thing happened while I was standing in line on the first day of early voting: Civility broke out among us.
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Halt of DVD Showing McCain Interview Is Ridiculous
Warner Bros. is halting any promotional viewings of the new DVD "The Hanoi Hilton" because the DVD includes a bonus feature of Sen. John McCain talking about his POW experience.
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Market Problems Are Systemic and Chronic
Rather than allowing the market to "punish" those companies that have acted irresponsibly, could we be reinforcing bad behavior by propping up those companies financially?
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Faithful Leaders Make Worship a Priority
Most of us need a place—a physical yet sacred space—where we can go to devote ourselves to a focused encounter with the very presence of God. Jesus himself spent considerable time around the Temple in Jerusalem. He recognized and utilized its value as a center for the people of God to encounter the life-changing presence of God.
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Don't Poison the Well of Public Discourse
It was the religious people who first injected the language of battlefield into the civic debate. They did so, first, in religious struggles, as Baptists in the South can attest. The struggle to dominate was not simply among brothers who disagreed on this or that; it was the forces of good against the forces of evil, truth against error, right versus wrong, orthodoxy over heresy.
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One Nation, Four Gods
The Culture War, in fact, is not really a conflict pitting secularists and atheists against theists and people of faith, but rather a civil war among theists. The Culture War is a theological war over competing ideas of God.
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Gore Says Faith Community Decisive in Tackling Climate Change
Al Gore knows that actions speak louder than words, especially when it comes to an issue which evokes reptilian opposition in some quarters of corporate America and skepticism within certain church circles: global warming.
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U.S. Policy Pushes and Pulls Migrants
Migrants are easy targets on both sides of the borders. Not since the days of Jane and Jim Crow has the U.S. government had a policy in place that systemically brought death to a group of people based on their race or ethnicity. Our deterrent policy is killing Hispanics.
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Choose Faith Over Fear
As Christians, we have every reason to see the crisis of confidence in the world's institutions as an opportunity to be reminded of what is most important and Who it is that truly holds our future.
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No One Wants to See Bush on the Big Screen Now
Oliver Stone will release his biopic of George W. Bush on Oct. 17. Prediction: Almost no one will want to see it.
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McCain and Obama Are Afraid of Sacrifice
Why would two card-carrying Christians evade the issue of sacrifice in a nation where the overwhelming majority professes faith and a significant slice say the nation is Christian?
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'Feeding the 5,000'
The first thing I want you to see in the story is this: Sometimes Jesus gives us assignments that seem to be impossible ...
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Be the Answer to Your Prayer
What is the real purpose of a National Day of Prayer? I have often been puzzled by efforts to get large numbers of people praying about something. Is the assumption being made that God only responds to a critical mass of people praying. That until a certain number is reached, God will not act?
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We Are the Bible Others Read
We Christians really are the only Bible that some people will read.
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Hope After the Foundations Crumble
The world changed forever on July 16, 1945. Somewhere in the remote basin of the Jemez Mountains in northern New Mexico, the first nuclear bomb was detonated. Though this was just a test, secretly and simultaneously two other nuclear bombs were being prepared for wartime deployment.
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Palin Stuck Between Rock and Tube of Lipstick
The case of Sarah Palin is extraordinary in the history of American politics, even as it seems entirely ordinary in the history of American women.
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A Psalm for the 'Bad Moon Rising'
I feel it in my bones. Now that the economists, the stock brokers and the bankers are losing fortunes and losing faith we are all paying attention. Not to the things we normally do in the most pleasant month of the year: baseball playoffs and political campaigns and weekend football. We are all paying attention to our shrinking resources.
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Faithful Leaders Practice the Gift of Wisdom
To some, Solomon's request for wisdom was admirable, and God's decision to grant him this and the wealth he did not ask for was a confirmation of the goodness of his request. To others, his response was manipulative.
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Living a Life of Significance: Part 2
Dr. Melvin Cheatham is an accomplished neurosurgeon. For much of his early career he felt that his drive for success had more to do with his own rise to stardom and material wealth than with providing care to suffering humanity. Long hours were taking such a toll on his body that he was told by a physician that his high cholesterol would likely kill him before age 50. It gave him a wake-up call.
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New 'Political Gospel' Departs from Christian Faith
Earlier generations of fundamentalists and evangelicals conveniently ignored the social dimensions of Jesus' message and heaped condemnation on the heads of these men and women for promoting a "false gospel" which they claimed deviated from historic Christianity. But the new evangelical "political gospel" is even more a departure from the tenets of the Christian faith.
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'Letting Go of Our Ego'
Editor's Note: Beginning today, each Friday we'll publish a sermon chosen from the nearly 2,000 free sermons housed at EthicsDaily.com. Today's sermon on Philippians 2 comes from Keith Herron, senior pastor of Holmeswood Baptist Church in Kansas City, Mo.
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CBF Leader Speaks to National Financial Crisis
The nation's financial crisis calls for a twofold response. One is pastoral; the other is moral.
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Find Peace in Hard Economic Times
What does one do when the stock market keeps diving, gas prices keep rising, and all that experts can agree upon is that nobody knows when or how this economic free fall will end? Many are consumed by rumor, worry, stress and fear. Lost jobs, income and savings are a gloomy reality. Some of us are more OK than others, but everybody is affected.
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Church Tax Exemption Isn't a Right
This past Sunday 33 pastors from all across the country deliberately broke the law. Prompted by the Alliance Defense Fund, a socially conservative legal consortium based in Arizona, these pastors stood in their pulpits and endorsed political candidates.
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Faithful Leaders Discern the Lord's Wisdom
Like many Americans, our presidents have expressed their dependence on God and sought God's blessing. Some presidents have been very private about their faith. Others have been accused of parading their piety. Of course, discerning Christians listen to pious presidential statements with caution, hoping for integrity and watching for evidence of authentic faith in personal practices and public policies.
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How Should a Congregation Respond to an Economic Recession?
Rosh Hashanah is the season wherein Jews are supposed to have great resolve and great hope. There are too many negative forces that tell us that we cannot do it. There are too many excuses for not being the type of Jews and human beings that we really and truly ought to be.
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Where Are We, Morally When the Market Plunges?
Robert Parham of EthicsDaily.com has issued a clarion call for faith leaders in America to speak out on the economic crisis. I second his motion … with a few reservations and stipulations.
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Who Would Jesus Torture?
Would Jesus condone torture if it yielded information that might prevent a terrorist attack? Anyone who has studied the life and teachings of Jesus closely, really thought about the red-letter parts of the New Testament, would answer, no.
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The Axis of Incompetence
There is an axis of incompetence that runs from New York to Washington, from Wall Street to the White House. All they know how to manage are elections.
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Critics of Christianity in China Don't Get It
China gets hammered again in the annual report on international religious freedom, as they do every year. Having visited (not as a tourist) churches in cities and villages in 21 of China's provinces I have to admit there is not the freedom of religion enjoyed (and exploited) by believers in America.
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The Truth Is That White Evangelicals Are Not Shifting to Obama
Evangelicals are not shifting to presidential candidate Barack Obama, according to a new survey from a prominent political scientist who shared his results last week at the annual convention of the Religion Newswriters Association. The findings counter the repeated claims of left-leaning Christian activists, Democratic Party advocates and liberal reporters who have contended that white evangelicals are undergoing a major shift away from the Republican Party.
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Has Sports Become a Religion in America?
Most religions focus on one god, one deity, or one central spiritual leader.
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Jail Term Prolonged for Baptist Pastor in Azerbaijan
A Baptist pastor in Azerbaijan must remain in jail for at least two more months while a criminal investigation against him continues, a court ruled Aug. 22.
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Jail Term Prolonged for Baptist Pastor in Azerbaijan
A Baptist pastor in Azerbaijan must remain in jail for at least two more months while a criminal investigation against him continues, a court ruled Aug. 22.
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Thumbs Up for President Bush
President Bush deserves a word of thanks from goodwill Baptists for his inclusive approach to one of the three religions in the Abrahamic faith tradition. For the past eight years, he has hosted in the White House an annual Iftaar dinner, a meal after sunset that breaks the daily fast for Muslims during Ramadan. He has shown the world the good side of people of faith.
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Through Christ We Find the Strength to Love Our Enemies
There is no doubt that Jesus commanded his followers to love their enemies. Moreover, there is no room for negotiation with Jesus on this point. No intelligent person can present a persuasive argument against taking his command seriously. Indeed, while we attempt to evade Jesus' clear teaching by placing limitations on his command, specifically related to who we love and how much we love, these limitations cannot be accepted by those who seek to follow the teachings of Christ with great sincerity.
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Must-Watch Thriller Weaves Together Muslim-Baptist Narratives
An action thriller ripping across three continents has a storyline about the son of an Islamic cleric, who displays admirable piety and wrestles with moral ambiguity, and the son of a Baptist preacher, who discloses a minimalist faith. One seeks God's will; the other says he believes in God without letting faith trouble his actions. One is black; the other is white. Both are Americans.
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Obama Campaign Introduces Faith-Based Merchandise
The Obama campaign is reportedly rolling out a line of faith-themed merchandise catering to religious voters.
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Wanted: Peacemakers in the Culture War
There's been lots of bad news this past week. Hurricane Ike ran ashore over Galveston, Texas, and folks as far away as Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky felt its force. The collapse of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae was quickly followed by the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers and the eventual bailout of American International Group (AIG). All the while, our country is tossed into turmoil of a different sort.
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American Baptist Pastor in Palin's Hometown Says Her Election Would Be a 'Disaster'
Sarah Palin is a front-line culture warrior whose election as vice president would be a "disaster" for the country, says an American Baptist pastor and longtime nemesis in local politics in the governor's hometown of Wasilla, Alaska.
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Serious Thinking Requires Moving Beyond 'Liberal' and 'Conservative' Labels
Once upon a time (say as late as 1948), the terms "liberal" and "conservative" actually held clearly defined meaning.
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Science and Faith
The pastor of my church asked me to speak about naturalism and theism at our Wednesday night supper, in part to lay some groundwork for his discussion of creationism and evolution the following week.
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Russian Baptists Deliver Aid to South Ossetia
Russian Baptists are responding to human needs in the desperately poor and war-ravaged enclave of South Ossetia.
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Forgiving Bin Laden … and the Governor of Illinois
It's pretty tempting, after the commemoration of the 9/11 attacks on the United States in 2001, to make the case--based on Jesus' teaching about forgiving an offender 70-multiplied-by-seven times--that serious Christians ought to figure out how to extend that forgiveness to brother bin Laden and his Al Qaeda accomplices.
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Jesus for President
What would happen if Jesus came to 21st century America, performed a couple of low-key miracles just to get folks talking, then announced he was running for president of the United States?
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Palin Pick Prompts Debate About Wives Working Outside the Home
Sarah Palin's nomination as vice president has sparked debate in conservative religious circles about whether a mother with young children ought to work outside the home.
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State's Congressional Delegation Turns Down Dialogue With Muslims
I got an e-mail Wednesday morning from a Muslim friend who was distraught to discover that every member of Oklahoma's congressional delegation declined to accept his invitation to a dinner and dialogue with moderate Muslims.
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Claim of Evangelical Voter Shift Is More Prayer Request than Answered Prayer
Claiming evangelicals are converting from Republican sin to Democratic salvation doesn't make it so no matter how many times that chorus is sung, and it has been sung over and over by progressive community organizers, quasi-religious politicians and liberal reporters. Praying for a miracle is not the same as declaring that the miraculous has happened.
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I Like Ike
"I like Ike" might have been a spiffy sounding campaign slogan during the U.S. presidential elections of the 1950s. But mention the name "Ike" today and you're more likely to invoke images of Haitian peasants carrying their meager belongings on their heads while wading through waist deep flood waters, residents of the Florida Keys anxiously boarding up their homes and businesses while evacuation buses make their rounds, or Dr. Steve Lyons giving the latest hurricane update on the Weather Channel.
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9/11: A Day That Lives in Infamy
Not to sound trite, but 9/11 is indeed a day that will live in infamy. On this day a sovereign democracy was savagely attacked by a terrorist organization.
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With a Bang or a Whimper?
For nine years now, far underground land spanning Switzerland and France, the largest and most powerful particle accelerator ever built has been under construction.
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Fellow Church Members, Deacons, Vie for Alabama Congressional Seat
Tip O'Neill's famous quote that "all politics is local" is nowhere truer this year than in Alabama's second congressional district, where both the Democratic and Republican candidates are deacons at the same Southern Baptist church.
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Jesus Modeled What it Meant to Love Our Enemies
A few years ago, as I was teaching on Jesus' command to love our enemies, a very perceptive young man asked me, "How far should we go to love our enemies?" Not only was this a thought-provoking question, it was one I had never seriously considered until that moment.
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Politician Palin Forces Theological Revisionism
The nomination of Sarah Palin changed Southern Baptist fundamentalism quicker than Eve tempted Adam to eat the apple in the Garden of Eden, metaphorically speaking. The Republican Party's first woman caused Republican Party's first-line male clergy to revise their theology about women, while claiming they never meant what they said earlier.
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City Councilman Faults 'Sorry Churches' for Not Fighting Social Ills
Taxpayers are forced to foot the bill for social programs because there are too many "sorry churches" that aren't doing what they're supposed to do, according to a city official in Jacksonville, Fla.
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Should We Apologize for Slavery?
The question came up on an American Airlines flight from Nashville to Dallas. I was reading the September-October issue of Sojourners, a liberal Christian magazine, and my seatmate was reading over my shoulder. We were both taken with a letter to the editor that opposed an apology for slavery.
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Weather Politics, Weather Theology
Sometime around the middle of August, James Dobson's Focus on the Family released a video urging Christians to pray for rain. Not rain to end the drought in the Southeast and other places, but rain to drown out a political message. The video encouraged Christians to pray for rain during Barak Obama's acceptance speech at Invesco Field in Denver on the last night of the Democratic National Convention.
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SBC Leaders Nervous About Election
Southern Baptists on Sept. 24 are launching a 40-day Prayer Vigil for Spiritual Revival and National Renewal. The daily prayers will include requests for God's guidance in voting, for the election of more "godly" Christians, for God to "help churches find ways to help Christians get to the polls" and for public officials to be protected "from the attacks of Satan."
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Our AC Addiction
These days you don't have to drive too long before you'll come across a hybrid car. High gasoline prices are finally having an effect. SUVs are out and hybrids, as well as other high mileage vehicles, are suddenly very much in demand. We simply can't afford the gas.
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Baptist Preacher Terms Palin VP Pick 'Anti-Family'
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain's pick of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate, aimed in part to ease doubts about his candidacy among the Religious Right, isn't winning over all conservative evangelicals.
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We Can Trust in God's Good and Sovereign Providence Despite Suffering
Anyone who is even slightly observant about the happenings in our world must draw the conclusion that there is indeed great suffering across God's creation.
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The People are the Trustees of The Airways
I listen to a lot of local radio programming. The talk shows in this radio market are entirely one-sided propaganda. Sean Hannity opens his showing every afternoon calling it the "Stop the Obama Express." How subtle is that?
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An Olympic-Sized Problem
Like many Americans, my attention recently was on the Olympic Games. I heard a report that more workers were coming to work too tired to be productive, because they have been staying up late watching the events.
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Diversity and Particularity
We live as a people in the midst of great diversity. We are diverse in age and gender and race and religion, especially religion. Even among Christians there is great variety. When we factor in the many other religious expressions in America, we are as one scholar put it "awash in a sea of faith." And that doesn't even take into account the many people who have no faith at all.
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NCAA Chooses Money Over Students' Health
Recently, presidents of about 100 of the nation's best-known colleges and universities called on lawmakers to lower the drinking age from 21 to 18. Their reasoning is akin to that surrounding the law of prohibition of years gone by: the drinking age is encouraging drinking, not curtailing it, specifically binge drinking.
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'I Have a Dream' Sermon Established Martin Luther King as Prophet
Martin Luther King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech, delivered 45 years ago today, established the Baptist preacher as a modern-day prophet, according to scholars contacted by EthicsDaily.com.
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Memo to the Bush Administration: Only Pregnant Women Have Abortions
An old pro-life slogan says, "If it's not a baby, then you're not pregnant." One could add, "If you're not pregnant, it can't be an abortion." Medical and surgical abortions can only be performed on pregnant women.
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What is Georgia's Fault?
At the end of a day of touring villages in my home country of Georgia, I switched the TV set on and looked for a channel with international news. There was a talk about the war in Georgia where an expert was asked by a journalist whether it was Georgia's fault to have started the war.
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Organized Labor Still Alive and Well

Labor Day is coming up. In the United States, as with most legally mandated Monday holidays, in the minds of most it has lost any inspirational significance and has become just another three-day weekend.

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Most Americans Think Churches Should Stay Out of Politics
For the first time in at least a decade, a majority of Americans believe churches should keep out of politics as opposed to expressing their views on social and political concerns.
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College Presidents' Alcohol Project Deserves Failing Grade
As of Aug. 25, a group of more than 125 college presidents and chancellors have signed on to promote one of the dumbest ideas ever to emerge from an administrative office.
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The Importance of Living an Authentic Life
By now the Bigfoot story is no longer big news. It was all a big hoax.
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Christianizing Campaigns
Every morning when I walk to my office, I pass the centerpiece of Belmont University: the 150-year-old bell tower. From it currently hangs a 20-foot banner advertising "Debate 08," the Oct. 7 town hall presidential debate hosted by Belmont.
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Converting the Church
I must have been about 10 when I first went to Disneyland in Southern California around 1968. Going to Disneyland was a dream come true for me. My parents scraped and saved to make this trip possible.
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Until God's Redemption Is Complete, We Must Be Discontent
In an earlier column, I wrote about how we discover contentment through the experience of God's continual presence, the present that God gives us to live today and the relationships God brings into each of our lives. For followers of Christ, however, there is a paradox in our discovery of contentment.
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Wiley Drake Takes Up Prayer Call for Rainout of Obama Event
A Focus on the Family Action broadcaster has apologized for a tongue-in-cheek video asking people to pray for rain during Barack Obama's outdoor speech at next week's Democratic National Convention, but a former Southern Baptist Convention officer quickly took up the cause.
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Christian Leaders as Power Brokers
It sounds like the beginning of a corny joke: Two Christian guys walk into a Baptist church and tell the pastor they want him to help one of them become president of the United States.
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Listeners of Religious Radio Below Average in Knowledge of Current Events
People who listen to religious radio shows like "Focus on the Family" are less knowledgeable about current events than the average American, according to a recent survey on media consumption by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.
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Huckabee Endorses Controversial Zionist Group
Former presidential candidate and possible vice presidential nominee Mike Huckabee visited Israel as a guest of a right-wing Zionist group that is buying up property to move Jews into Jerusalem's Muslim Quarter in hopes of replacing the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque with a reconstruction of Solomon's Temple and ushering in the Messianic Age.
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How Fast Can Rick Warren Spin?
Let me confess that I believed from the beginning that the so-called "Faith Forum" held on Aug. 16 at the Saddleback Church in California and hosted by its pastor, Rick Warren, was a bad idea.
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Baptist Theologians Reflect on Mosque-Building Boom in Germany
Muslims plan to construct over 180 mosques in Germany. The birthplace of the Protestant Reformation, Neo-Orthodoxy, Dietrich Bonheoffer's Confessing Church and Pope Benedict XVI, it is also the location of almost 1,000 Baptist churches and the Baptist World Alliance's 2008 youth conference.
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McCain Wins Points With Religious Right in Saddleback Forum
Saturday's Saddleback Civil Forum helped Republican presidential candidate John McCain shore up support among the Religious Right, according to several conservative commentators.
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Russia, Georgia Conflict a Matter of Perspective
During the recent conflict between Georgia and Russia, we learned an interesting lesson on the importance of perspective. My husband, one of our daughters and I were hosts to a Russian houseguest.
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Saddleback Forum Reveals Differences in Candidates
As a long-time student of civil religion (I co-authored a book in 1988 entitled "Civil Religion and the Presidency" that the publisher quickly took out of print because the evangelical audience to which it was directed was [and still is] unwilling to face up to the matter), I stayed up last Saturday night to watch the show in California. I found it profoundly disappointing, even though Rick Warren tried to be "an honest broker," a term German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck used about himself at the Congress of Berlin in 1878.
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Is Rick Warren Still Reading from a Small Bible?
Mega-church pastor Rick Warren has flipped from being a cheerleader for President Bush in the fall of 2004 to claiming neutrality in the 2008 presidential election. His twist is accompanied by a widespread claim that he now has a broader moral agenda. But discerning Christians ought to ask what purpose drove his shift and did he really pivot toward a more comprehensive set of moral issues?
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Enter the Antichrist
Mark Twain once wrote, "I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man's reasoning powers are not above the monkey's."
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Preacher, Get Your Gun
We have an interesting and kind of scary political discussion going on here in my home state of Georgia.
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Georgia, Russia Clash … in Beach Volleyball
Wednesday morning I watched women's beach volleyball at the Olympics. I had hoped to find the Americans playing. When watching MSNBC, you never know who you will get. I quickly became intrigued with the match. It was Russia versus Georgia. Not Georgia the Peach State, but Georgia the country that Russia invaded this week.
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Integrating Churches Easier Said Than Done
One reason 11 a.m. Sunday remains the most segregated hour in America is because many church members want it that way, according to a recent article by CNN.
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Pastor Wonders About Friends in Georgia War Zone
I just made my eighth trip to Georgia in June to celebrate the wedding of Malkhaz Songulashvili, archbishop of the Evangelical Baptist Church of Georgia, and his beloved Ala Kavtaradze.
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NCAA Refuses to Ban Beer Advertising for Sports Broadcasts
The NCAA Executive Committee declined to ban alcohol advertising for sporting events, ignoring letters signed by coaches, presidents and athletics directors who said advertising beer is inconsistent with the NCAA's policy banning advertising for hard liquor and not in the best interest of college sports or higher education.
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Jesus' Life Offers a Model of Contentment
We live in a restless and discontented world. Each day we are confronted with problems and circumstances that test our peace and contentment. We worry about financial problems, health problems and family problems. We are anxious about raising our children, succeeding at work and maintaining a certain standard of living.
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Is John Edwards' Affair a Warning to the Religious Left?
Former presidential candidate John Edward's extramarital affair with a younger woman paid to produce videos of Edwards is a headshaking disappointment. It shouldn't have been.
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Baptist Leader Decries Georgia-Russia Conflict
A Baptist leader in the eastern European state of Georgia says last week's invasion by Russia is the most serious threat to the former Soviet republic in recent history.
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How Churches Might Face the Coming Crises
An earlier column talked about several converging crises--energy, economy and environment. Since then the price of gas has gone down! Proof that I was wrong. Not!
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What's the Buzz? Seminary President Discusses Sin, Death and Mosquitoes
There may have been mosquitoes in the Garden of Eden, says a Southern Baptist seminary president, but they didn't become a pest until after Adam and Eve committed Original Sin.
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Back to School
As summer slowly grinds to a steamy close, children and young people around the country are gearing up to go back to school. For most of them that means public school.
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A Candle for Those Oppressed
This Friday, the attention of the world will turn to Olympics. Extensive media coverage will be given to exceptional athletes--the talented swimmers, gifted gymnasts, Dream Teams and so many others.
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Congressional Candidate Featured in 'Golden Rule Politics' Wins Primary
A moderate Baptist pastor's wife who appears in a Baptist Center for Ethics DVD about faith and politics won Tuesday's Democratic primary for a seat in Congress.
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The Good Samaritan Teaches There Are No Limits to Our Community
The Parable of the Good Samaritan is one of the most familiar and beloved parables told by Jesus. Yet the danger in knowing the story too well is that we have often understood the story apart from its original social context, leading us to miss the shock the parable had on its first audience. While the parable can stand on its own as a good story about one person showing compassion to another, hearing it as the first hearers did opens to us the real sting of the tale.
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Christian Leader Rejects Abortion to Save a Woman's Life
A proponent of "biblical patriarchy" is drawing fire among conservative religious homeschoolers for his view that abortion is never morally justifiable, even to save the life of the mother.
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'Back to School' Also Means Return to Battles Over Intelligent Design
As fall approaches, along with back-to-school sales and tax-free holidays, expect more controversies about intelligent design, warns a Texas organization that monitors science teaching standards in public schools.
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In God We Trust?
I'm a big fan of God, but the governor's proposal to allow Kentuckians to opt for car license tags that replace the state slogan "Unbridled Spirit" with "In God We Trust" seems like a nice idea with complicated and confusing consequences.
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Azerbaijani Baptist Pastor Avoids Prison, For Now
A jailed Baptist pastor in Azerbaijan won a partial victory July 29 when a judge decided not to convict him of criminal charges and referred the case back to the prosecutor for further investigation.
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Ready, Set, Pray
For years now the Fredericksburg, Va., city council has started their monthly meetings with prayer. Working through a pre-established rotation, each council member takes a turn seeking guidance from a higher power for the council to do its work.
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Ready, Set, Pray
For years now the Fredericksburg, Va., city council has started their monthly meetings with prayer. Working through a pre-established rotation, each council member takes a turn seeking guidance from a higher power for the council to do its work.
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'Swing Vote'
What if Larry the Cable Guy chose the next president? That's basically the premise of "Swing Vote," the new Kevin Costner starrer satirizing presidential elections.
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Rick Warren Says Pastors Shouldn't Endorse Candidates
"Purpose-Driven Life" author Rick Warren, who supported President Bush on the eve of the 2004 election, now says pastors should not endorse political candidates.
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Church Must Go on the Offensive Against Violence
The church shooting last Sunday in Knoxville, Tenn., was a nightmare I have long feared. Churches, like schools, are easy targets for madmen wishing to inflict harm on defenseless people.
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Translating Big Daddy: Rules for the Campaign Trail
Leading up to the 2006 mid-term elections when the Democratic Party regained majorities in both the House and Senate I was on the phone one evening with my friend, Christine Pelosi, when she asked me to share with her the rules of politics I follow.
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Church as Family
What do you think of when you hear the term church?
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Religious Doctrine Must Not Serve as a Weapon
When I was in seminary, the institution I attended experienced a radical shift to the far right. During those days I witnessed a theological battle that still leaves a bad taste in my mouth. On one particularly rough day, my Hebrew professor came into class and made one statement that has stuck with me ever since. "Theology is never the issue. It is always the weapon. Power is the real issue."
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History, Faith and Politics
The decades between 1970 and 2020 will eventually be seen as one of the most significant periods of our history, especially in regard to the interplay between politics and religion. And the 2008 presidential campaign may well serve as an object lesson for the whole period.
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Report: State Official Upholds Nomination of Wiley Drake for Vice President
Former Southern Baptist Convention officer Wiley Drake is reportedly officially a candidate for vice president of the United States in California--at least for now.
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We're Number 1?
With the football season approaching, we can get ready to see all kinds of weird fans on the TV screens with their index fingers pointed toward us, yelling, "We're No. 1."
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Mohler, Dobson Bash Obama
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Albert Mohler warned that electing Sen. Barack Obama as president would send America on a trajectory toward "normalization" of homosexuality and gay marriage.
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Theology of Southern Baptist VBS Song Questioned
Critics say a song being sung this summer in Southern Baptist Vacation Bible Schools across the country includes faulty theology about the Trinity and the Bible.
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Bid to Lead Alabama's Public Service Commission Falls Short for Favorite of Religious Right
Support from conservative Christians and endorsement by Judge Roy Moore weren't enough for political outsider Matt Chancey to win Tuesday's Republican primary runoff for president of Alabama's Public Service Commission.
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Don't Forward Libelous E-Mail
Like everyone else, I daily receive forwarded e-mail messages from friends and acquaintances. Whenever it says at the bottom, "Pass this along to 10 of your friends and keep this message alive," I immediately determine I will not pass it along, no matter what the threat may be in ignoring the warning.
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Quarter-Life Crisis
I'm 26 years old and I have, thankfully, already passed through my quarter life crisis.
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Common Cause Launches Campaign to 'Recapture the Flag'
Common Cause has launched a campaign called "Recapture the Flag," protesting abuses of power by the White House and failure by Congress to oversee the Executive Branch.
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The Future of Faith-Based Initiatives
It is probably too early to speculate how history will rate George W. Bush's tenure as president. There will obviously be many words written about Sept. 11, the war in Iraq, tax cuts for the rich, the polarization of the country along partisan lines, the disputed 2000 election, and so on. The most problematic piece for me will be his legacy with the faith community.
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Critics Say G8 Climate Statement Doesn't Go Far Enough
President Bush hailed Tuesday's climate change statement by G8 leaders as "significant progress" on global warming, while environmental and humanitarian groups criticized it as too little and too late.
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Jesse Helms and Eternal Peace
Admittedly, I was never a fan of Jesse Helms, the conservative (an understatement) longtime Senator from North Carolina that just recently died on July 4. His funeral was Tuesday at Hayes Barton Baptist Church in Raleigh and was attended by the powerful politicians from both the Democratic and Republican Parties with whom he either forged alliances or did battle with during his 30 years in the Senate.
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Jesse Helms Attended Moderate Baptist Church
Sen. Jesse Helms, an icon of conservative politics who died Friday of natural causes, lay in state at a decidedly moderate Baptist church he attended faithfully for more than 30 years.
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My 'Take' on Jesus
Not too long ago, a friend from another religious tradition asked me to summarize my "take on Jesus." This is the reply I shared.
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Patriotism Is Not Enough
Several years ago, while on a family trip to London, we were making our way up from Trafalgar Square to St. Martin's Place. As we headed toward the National Portrait Gallery, I glanced at one of the many statues that surround this area of Britain's capital. My glance at the stone monument, however, quickly turned into an intense focus and reflection on the words below the figure carved there. The words read, "Patriotism is not enough." The woman whose representation was situated atop that citation was Edith Cavell.
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Struggling With Religious Liberty Sunday
We're observing Religious Liberty Sunday on July 6. I struggle every year with how to handle it, and I am struggling more than usual this year.
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The 232nd Fourth of July

The American Independence Day did not have much going for it when we lived in Hong Kong. In those days it was a Crown Colony of the British Empire and had been since 1842. Groundhog Day meant more to the British than the Fourth of July.

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A Prayer for Independence Day
Good and gracious God, you have given us the privilege and the responsibility of living in the most resourceful land in the world. From sea to shining sea most of us enjoy unparalleled freedom, comfortable homes, nutritious meals, preferred vocations and unique religious liberty.
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Do You Love the Church?
During the Friday evening worship service at the CBF annual meeting in Memphis, the CBF director of missional church ministries began his presentation by saying, "I love church." He then invited the participants to repeat the phrase in unison. I'm not much into cheerleading, so I didn't open my mouth. I just couldn't bring myself to say the words. Let me tell you why.
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Vitter, Craig Unlikely Sponsors of Marriage Amendment
The latest attempt to amend the U.S. Constitution to ban gay marriage is under scrutiny not for its content but for two of its sponsors viewed as unlikely champions of family values.
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Death Lessons
For someone who has never had a life-threatening illness or injury, I feel like I am well acquainted with death.
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James Dobson Preaches a False Gospel
For the past eight years, James Dobson's brand of Christianity has been normative in the land. Dobson has preached a Christ acceptable to the present Bush administration. When George W. Bush and company get down on their knees, they pray to the same Christ to whom Dobson turns for guidance in making moral decisions.
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How America Lost Its Soul
It was a noble experiment; risky but worth the risk. Human beings have inalienable rights, Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence. A declaration of human rights.
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Talking Back to the Pulpit
Churches in the African-American tradition are familiar with "talking back." This give-and-take between the pulpit and pew offers immediate and affirming feedback with "that's right," "come on now" and "preach it" in response.
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'Mission Accomplished' Now A Reality
Though his staged photo-op on the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln in San Diego harbor was about five years premature, the "Mission Accomplished" banner unfurled behind President Bush has now come true.
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Professor Says 'Stewards of Knowledge' Wasted Resource in Churches
People sitting in church pews with knowledge about complicated social issues but who use it only to enrich themselves are a wasted resource for the Kingdom of God, a former tax lawyer turned fair-tax activist told a Baptist Center for Ethics audience last week.
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Top Ten Questions Never To Ask a Hispanic Who Is Visiting Your Church
Over the years I have had the pleasure of visiting many predominant Euro-American churches. Without fail, some well-meaning person would usually approach me and ask a question that literally left me speechless.
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Dobson Breaks Silence on Presidential Race; Blasts Obama; Challenges McCain
After four months on the sidelines since endorsing Mike Huckabee for president in February, Focus on the Family Founder James Dobson came out swinging in a special radio broadcast accusing presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama of distorting the Bible and possessing a "fruitcake" understanding of what the Constitution says about the separation of church and state.
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Second Baptist Pastor Jailed in Small Town in Azerbaijan
Three months after Azerbaijan, under international pressure, released a Baptist pastor imprisoned on questionable grounds, a second Baptist church leader in the same small village has been jailed on what family members claim are trumped-up charges of illegal possession of a firearm.
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Protecting a 'Way of Life'
So the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Bill foundered in Congress. Everyone knew it would stall and fail. What's the big deal?
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Great Preachers Wear Dresses
What do Karen Armstrong, Kathleen Norris and Anne Rice have in common? Actually, they share several similarities. They are all white women born in the 1940s who have been heavily influenced by the Catholic tradition and are prolific and acclaimed English-language authors.
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Speaker Encourages Churches to Advocate for Just Tax Laws
Churches have often misused and misunderstood the Bible verse that says "render unto Caesar" as an excuse for tolerating unjust taxes that oppress the poor, a speaker at a Baptist Center for Ethics luncheon said Thursday.
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A New Name For Alabama's Education System
I want to propose a new name for Alabama's education system--one that more accurately portrays the true status of public education in our state. I propose we call our public schools "the Lazarus system."
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The First Beatitude
"When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:1-3, NRSV)
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The Evidence of Things Not Seen
In March of this year, 11-year-old Kara Neumann of Weston, Wis., died as the result of a diabetic condition known as ketoacidosis. This condition is normally treatable with injections of insulin. When properly treated it is rarely fatal. But Kara's parents did not seek medical treatment for their daughter. Instead, they prayed.
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SBC Resolution Encourages Political Involvement
The Southern Baptist Convention on Wednesday passed a resolution urging political involvement by churches.
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Waging Peace Rather Than War
"Ain't Gonna Study War No More" is one of those old songs we don't hear sung much these days. It comes from some of the very insightful and meaningful verses in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. (The first four books of the New Testament Bible.)
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Climate-Change Bill Fails in Senate
Senators on Friday blocked a bill aimed at reducing greenhouse-gas emissions linked to global warming.
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To Bee or Not to Be
Rising food and fuel prices are on the minds of much of the world. These realities exist hand in hand. It takes lots of energy for the massive food production needed to sustain (and in many cases, fatten) over six billion human residents on this orb. Thus, it is futile to think the cost of one will be unrelated to the other. Alongside these very noticeable realities, though, there is another busy contributor to food production. It is the honey bee.
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Religious Politics as Spectacle
In our last episode of religion and politics on the campaign trail we left Sen. John McCain rejecting the endorsement of John Hagee. McCain found out that Hagee thought the Jews brought the Holocaust on themselves, because they would not leave Europe and move to Israel.
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Experts Say Anti-Immigration Laws Carry Unintended Economic Costs
Anti-immigration policies like an Oklahoma bill cracking down on illegal aliens are costly, two economists said in an interview aired recently on a Baptist radio program.
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Top Ten Conspiracy Theories of the Religious Right
Having recently read Matt Taibbi's book about John Hagee's church, I was startled to read of what passes for phophetic language. The conspiracy theory about Al Gore working secretly with global warming folks to take over the Unites States stayed with me. I was reminded of other Religious Right conspiracy theories that have brought with them "amens."
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Jesus Gave Strong Warnings Against 'Affluenza'
We are in the middle of a very serious epidemic in this country. No, the Centers for Disease Control have not issued any warnings, and doctors and healthcare professionals have not reported any outbreak of disease or plague. But the epidemic we face is real, powerful and very dangerous. It is an Affluenza epidemic.
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African-American Men March Against Violence in St. Louis
At least 20,000 African-American men packed the streets of St. Louis on the first Sunday in June, marching one of the historic Annie Malone May Day Parade routes through "The Ville" and ending in Tandy Park.
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McCain's Faithful Second Team
I am beginning to feel a little sorry for Sen. John McCain. He's done everything he is supposed to do. He beat out a large contingent of Republican presidential hopefuls fairly early allowing him to occupy the enviable position of presumptive Republican nominee for president for three months now. He's been scurrying about trying to rally the party behind him and all the other things the presumptive nominee does leading up to the Republican National Convention in September.
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John Birch Society Joins SBC and Club for Growth in Common Cause
Three different organizations have more in common that appears at first blush.
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Is There a Way Beyond Verbal Shock-and-Awe?
Last week, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain, found it necessary to "distance" himself from two ultra-conservative pastors: John Hagee of Texas and Rod Parsley of Ohio. Probably, you couldn't find an American who has not heard of the similar troubles Sen. Barack Obama has had with his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright.
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Economic Extremists Air Ads Opposing Climate Change Senate Bill
A right-wing economic group with an anti-government philosophy is attacking a bill in the U.S. Senate aimed at reducing greenhouse-gas emissions linked to global warming.
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Lieberman to Speak at Hagee Summit
Former Democratic vice presidential candidate turned Independent Sen. Joseph Lieberman is listed as a headline speaker at an upcoming event sponsored by John Hagee, a preacher from San Antonio, Texas, whose controversial views recently caused Republican presidential candidate John McCain to reject his endorsement.
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Southern Baptist Denies Signing 'The Evangelical Manifesto'
A Southern Baptist listed as a charter signer of "An Evangelical Manifesto" statement released May 7 says he was asked the review the document but never consented to include his signature.
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Focus on the Undocumented Family
Family values have arisen as battle cry among Christians, specifically conservative Christians. During past presidential elections, family values were indicated as being a decisive factor for the electorate in arriving at the decision for whom to cast a vote.
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Starfish, Lotteries and Taxes
The Alabama Senate is considering a bill that will, among other things, remove the state portion of tax on food. I'm hopeful the bill will pass and have encouraged others to do what I have done--call their senator to encourage support for the bill.
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A Short History of Memorial Day
As a child I wasn't aware that Memorial Day observances were intended for those felled on the battlefield. I thought of it as a day of family remembrance, honoring relatives gone before us--veterans and non-veterans alike--something akin to a low-church All Saints Day--but with flowers; lots of flowers.
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Sermons Should Call Us to Radical Discipleship
Perhaps it's who I am, but when I sit in church trying to follow the sermon, I am often stunned by the blandness of many Sunday-morning homilies.
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Where is God in the Storm?
Somewhere a preacher is preaching. He shakes his fist at the ceiling as he describes the wrath of God. That wrath has come, he tells his attentive congregation, on the crest of a terrible storm. God has shown his power and his might by smashing a wall of wind and water into villages in the troubled country of Myanmar.
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The Devil Is In the Doing of Evil
Reading sacred texts about an all-loving and all-powerful God raises questions and concerns when that image is compared to the realities of life. All have faced, or will face, tragedy, misery and death. Events will occur that appear unfair, leading most of us to question if any sense of cosmic justice truly exists.
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Pundits and Politicians Label Opponents as False Prophets
Pundits and politicians are hurling around the term false prophets, making one wonder if the term is the newest way to smear an opponent with a negative religious image. Are all our opponents false prophets? What really is a false prophet?
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It's Not Easy Building Green
My husband and I recently built a new house. We had aspirations of being as ecologically responsible as possible, but we were thwarted at almost every step.
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We Need Unbiased Data About Climate Change
The government is struggling with a huge issue. They are debating the sensibilities of changing the map on the back of seed packets.
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Seven Touchstones for Reclaiming the Rightful Role of Faith in Politics
Last Thursday, I spoke at the annual meeting of the South Carolina Christian Action Council held at Zion Canaan Baptist Church in Columbia. I significantly condensed that lengthy presentation and repackage it as an editorial.
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The Fragmenting Christian Right
It appears that the Religious Right is coming undone. Having played a dominant role in national politics since the 1980s, it now appears that the key players will be sidelined during the upcoming presidential campaign. It also appears that some among the conservative Christian movement think the partisanship of the past decades have hurt the cause of Christianity overall.
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Christian Right Leaders Push Back Against Concern for Global Warming
A group of conservative religious leaders and politicians on Thursday unveiled a new campaign aimed at getting 1 million supporters behind a so-called "biblical" view of the environment that downplays concerns about human-induced global warming.
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Baptists Show Solidarity With Palestinians
A British Baptist leader joined a reported 15,000 people last Saturday in a march in central London showing solidarity with Palestinians.
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'Morning Meetings With Jesus'
Every morning, all across our country, in big cities and small towns, students come trudging through the doors of our schools. Some come eagerly, anticipating each day; some come reluctantly, overwhelmed by challenges too great for them. Some come from homes where books are read and learning is encouraged; others come from daunting family situations.
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Lawyer Group Recruiting Churches to Disobey Tax Law
A legal advocacy group founded by Religious Right broadcasters is recruiting pastors for an act of civil disobedience by preaching about political candidates in violation of rules against politicking for non-profit charities imposed by the Internal Revenue Service.
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Suffering Raises Questions About God's Justice
I was sitting on my porch this past week reading the Monday edition of our local newspaper, enjoying very much an article about a married couple who spent their lives traveling the U.S. driving trucks. It truly is a great story of love and partnership between husband and wife.
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If the Bible is So Important, Why Don't We Take Jesus More Seriously?
A friend of mine was telling me of his latest adventure of faith. The church he pastors has a sign on the main road of their small town. They posted this message: "The Sum of Christianity is Love God, Love Your Neighbor. The Rest is Doctrine." My friend said that message caused unexpected controversy in the Christian community of his town. One minister took out an ad in the local paper attacking the message and the church that posted it. Others communicated their criticism in more direct ways.
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God's Kingdom is a Kingdom of Consciousness
When you read the Gospel narratives, do you ever notice how Jesus sees and hears those people ignored by others? Whether a blind beggar, a woman who has been bleeding for 12 years or a hungry crowd, Jesus either sees them when others don't or he sees them quite differently than others do. These encounters inform us that Jesus had an intentional consciousness of those around him.
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Mother's Day for Peace
According to Wikipedia, the roots of Mother's Day may go all the way back to celebrations of motherhood by the ancient Greeks. In 16th century England, the custom developed of observing Mothering Day on the 4th Sunday in Lent. On that day, people would return to their "mother church" where, naturally, they would likely encounter their mothers.
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Render Unto the IRS
Kenyn Cureton is vice president for church ministries for the Family Research Council. The FRC is a right-wing religious organization that lobbies for the usual litany of right wing religious concerns-anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, prayer in schools and so on.
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Centrist Baptists Challenge Group Denouncing 'Politicization of Faith'
Baptist leaders questioned a self-identified "inclusive grassroots initiative" unveiled Wednesday criticizing Christians on both the left and right for allowing their faith to become too political.
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It Takes a Cyclone to Awaken Conscience
What is more mystifying--the things that occupy our attention or the things that should occupy our attention?
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Baptist Leaders Denounce War Funding Bill
The House of Representatives this week takes up a spending bill analysts say would bring the total cost of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq since Sept. 11, 2001, to at least $875 billion.
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Pondering Immigration
Immigration: everyone has an opinion. We hear rhetoric used to describe the dilemma of undocumented immigrants in this country from politicians to pulpits.
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God's Kingdom is a Kingdom of Sharing
In Luke 12 Jesus tells a parable about a rich man who had plenty. In fact, the man had so much grain that he decided to tear down his barns and build bigger ones. This rich man believed that because of his new windfall he was set for a life of ease and pleasure. Yet, in a shocking twist of events, the man's life came to an unexpected end, and his abundance was wasted. He had assumed that his surplus of grain would keep him comfortable for years to come, but instead his life was demanded of him that night, and his excess became useless.
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Democracy Grows As Truth and Honesty Prevail
Most of us would love to see more democracy in the nations of the world. Just suppose the Middle East had a fledging democracy 50-plus years ago. Iran did have a thriving and growing democracy, until August 1953.
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Will the Christian Left Criticize or Justify Obama's Divorce from Wright?
Senator Barack Obama filed divorce papers against Reverend Jeremiah Wright on the grounds of irreconcilable differences one day after his pastor of 20 years appeared at the National Press Club, even though Wright's substance and style had not really changed.
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Family Research Council Urging Pastors to 'Cross the Line' in Political Endorsements
A Religious Right spokesman with ties to the Southern Baptist Convention says he plans to counsel pastors to "cross the line" in telling church members how they should vote in the upcoming presidential election.
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Battling Prejudice at Home and Abroad
I recently traveled to Romania, where Buckner International enables churches to give shoes and socks to orphans who live in group homes. Meeting these children to give them humanitarian aid was amazing. Considering the country is less than 20 years removed from the dictatorial reign of Nicolae Ceausescu, it is all the more remarkable.
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Conservative Methodists Accused of Trying to Buy African Votes With Cell Phones
A multi-year effort to turn the United Methodist Church to the right on controversial issues like homosexuality suffered a setback at General Conference meetings being held this week in Fort Worth, Texas.
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Liberation Theology a Significant Theological Movement
The Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Sen. Barack Obama's former minister, continues to be a factor in the ongoing presidential campaign. His recent media blitz has put his theology and social views on the front burner. I find it interesting to hear his views characterized as representative of Black Liberation Theology.
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Christian Television Network Reports Growing Audience in Iran
Iran's mix of political instability and harsh enforcement of Sharia law are combining to produce an unexpected result--increased interest in the gospel message--reports a broadcasting ministry operated by and for Christian in the Middle East.
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LEEDing By Example
Curiously, churches have lagged far behind institutions of higher education and corporations in paying attention to environmental responsibility and sustainability in constructing buildings. In some conservative Christian circles, the recent obsession with creation(-ism) has led to a great deal of talk but very little walk in creation care. In some liberal circles, environmentalism has become a new creedalism, but with little or no impact on the design and construction of church facilities.
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Gospel Tears Down Idols and Shrines of Politics and Race
Analyzing election results is a tricky business, even for the experts, and I'm no expert. But it's hard, at least for me, not to try to get a feeling for what is happening and finding patterns that reveal where the electorate is heading, even if the sampling is a single state like Pennsylvania.
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Environmental Racism: Another Inconvenient Truth
Most Americans are coming to terms with the environmental peril facing our planet. Documentaries, books, media attention and scientific research are raising consciousness to this very important issue. For this we should all be grateful. However, there exists an inconvenient truth within the present environmental movement. The greatest levels of environmental derogation exist where people of color live.
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Baptist Leaders Urge Senate to Pass 'Strongest Possible' Bill on Climate Change
More than 140 Baptist leaders from 25 states and the District of Columbia endorsed a Baptist Center for Ethics letter sent today calling on the U.S. Senate to pass climate-change legislation
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Southern Baptist Leaders' Comments Echo 'Biblical Patriarchy' Theology
Thoughts about subordination of women that brought censure to a female presenter who critiqued them in a recent apologetics conference at Midwestern Baptist Theological seminary find some parallel in recent history of the Southern Baptist Convention, according to an analysis by EthicsDaily.com.
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Should Christians Be Concerned About Our Carbon Footprint?
Scientists are in wide agreement that global warming is real. Carbon dioxide and methane gases have increased in our atmosphere over the years and scientists believe these are mostly to blame for the warming phenomena which are causing more frequent extreme weather, disappearing glaciers and ice cover in both the Arctic and Antarctic Sea regions, and a rise in the ocean's temperatures.
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The Kingdom of God is a Kingdom of Love
In reading the Hebrew and Christian scriptures, I cannot help but draw one fundamental conclusion about the essence of God: God is love. From Genesis to Revelation, the pages of the Bible sing forth that God is love. If this is true, then we must conclude that the primary characteristic of God's kingdom is also love. While we speak about God's kingdom coming in power, it is in the power of love that God's kingdom transforms the world.
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It Ain't Easy Being Green
Just ask Kermit the Frog, who sang about it. Or the Jolly Green Giant, about whom the following was sung:
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Struggling in Silence
Do you know which professional group in the United States experiences the highest rate of suicide? According to the most recent edition of Newsweek magazine, the highest rate of suicide in our country, higher than among any other professional group, occurs among doctors.
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British Baptists Issue Warning on Extremist Politics
British Baptists, Methodists and the United Reformed Church have joined forces to denounce racist and extreme political parties in upcoming local elections in Wales and parts of England.
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Seeing Our Sin
I remember talking with two friends before the fall of the Soviet Union telling them I believed the U.S.S.R. would start to crumble and would no longer exist within five years. They thought I had lost my mind. Our country had defined the Soviet Union as totally evil and had given it an aura of invincibility.
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Missouri Southern Baptist Leader Apologizes for Criticizing Confederate Flag
The interim executive director of the Missouri Baptist Convention has apologized for calling the Confederate flag a symbol of hate.
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Fundamentalists on the Left and Right
Chris Hedges has lived an interesting life so far. He is a graduate of Harvard divinity school and once considered a career in the ministry. He eventually ended up in journalism where he served for two decades as a foreign correspondent for The New York Times, The Dallas Morning News and National Public Radio. In 2002 he shared the Pulitzer Prize with a team of writers for coverage of global terrorism.
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God's Kingdom is a Kingdom of Peace
At the beginning of his Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, Jesus makes nine statements that would be enough to offer us a guide to living the way God would have us live even if they were the only extant words of Jesus we had. Each statement promises blessings if we live according to what is demanded by Jesus. Unfortunately, his demands are not easy, as he tells us that to find blessings we must be poor, be mournful, be meek, hunger for righteousness, be merciful, and endure persecution in the name of Jesus.
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Christian Right's Support for Torture Sends Tortured Message About What Christians Believe
James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, has criticized Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain's opposition to the U.S. government's use of torture.
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Resource Questions Candidates About No Child Left Behind
Add one to the list of moral values at stake in the next federal election: where does your candidate stand on reauthorization of No Child Left Behind?
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The Cost of War
There have been a lot of numbers thrown about recently regarding the cost of the war in Iraq. The estimates now suggest the war will run through trillions of dollars.
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Seven Who Fought
It was a costly battle for many whose family, profession, prestige – even life itself were laid on the line. During the 1950s and 1960s the fight for dignity and human rights against bigotry, hate and apathy changed the lives of thousands of Americans.
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Who Commands the Commandments?
The Ten Commandments belong in communities of faith, not in public places.
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Will Prosperity Theology Bring Peace between Christianity and Islam?
The "Atlantic" magazine has a cover title of "Which Religion Will Win" with an artistic question mark designed out of a crescent moon intersecting with a crucifix atop a globe. One of the issue's major articles examines the competition between Christianity and Islam for adherents in Nigeria, "God's Country," Africa's most populous country.
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Clintons Provide Moral Example with Charitable Giving
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and her husband, former President Clinton, reported late Friday afternoon that they made since 2000 more than $109 million and gave $10.25 million to charity.
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Faith and Doubt
The Alabama Shakespeare Festival is currently offering an exceptional production of Tom Dudzick's humorous play, "Over the Tavern." The story line is about a Catholic family in the 1950s that literally lives over a tavern. The characters, Chester and Ellen, are struggling to raise their four children, including two teenagers, a son who has down syndrome and a son who doesn't want to be Catholic.
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Dobson Is Troubled by McCain's Opposition to Torture and Global Warming
How did Sen. John McCain's commitment to addressing global warming and advancing human rights become sources of opposition from Christian Right leader James Dobson?
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Confederate Flag Issue Flies in Face of Anniversary of MLK Assassination
Racism is racism. Sexism is sexism. Wrong is wrong. Secular hate speech is as wrong as religious hate speech. Liberal untruthfulness is as wrong as conservative untruthfulness. Yet human nature compels us to rationalize, to justify and to defend our dehumanizing action and beliefs, and those of our friends, those on our side.
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Martin Luther King Jr. was Prophetic Voice for Peace
On Friday, April 4, the world remembers the 40th anniversary of the untimely and tragic death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. King's legacy is large, and much of the progress we have made in race relations, although still inadequate, is due to his unwavering belief and commitment to justice, freedom, and equality for all.
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Politics and Ecumenism
The Golden Rule of Ecumenism has brought vastly different Christian traditions together for conversation and action, and the rule should be applied to American politics.
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The Bible and Pedophilia
I have been pondering this issue of sexual predators in the church. Much of the conversation has revolved around larger denominational structures, rather than local churches. I think that has happened for at least two reasons. Pedophilia was for the most part perceived as a Catholic issue. It was too convenient to ignore the imagery of non-married clergy and altar boys. Huge court cases and enormous financial settlements only served to reinforce our prejudices. It has now become apparent that issue is an iceberg in the Baptist ocean as well.
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Jesus' Message that God's Kingdom Coming Into the World Still Relevant
In the opening of Mark's Gospel, after his baptism and temptation, Jesus announces that the kingdom of God is at hand. The way in which the author narrates this proclamation as Jesus' first words in the story suggests that Jesus' central message throughout his life was about the kingdom of God.
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Iraq War Bill is $5,000 Per Second
EthicsDaily.com editorials and columns expressed opposition to the war in Iraq before the war in Iraq, when TV news show pundits, politicians and too many preachers either crusaded for the war or said too little in opposition. Our opposition was rooted in the rules of just war.
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Baptist Leader Terms Racism 'Insidious Cancer' in Society
Growing up black in America, Aidsand Wright-Riggins says he is used to hearing the "n-word." What bothers him is as a midweek air traveler he seldom sees more than one or two fellow African-American passengers, even though the United States is more than 12 percent black.
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Hate and the Pulpit
I know it's not new, I guess I am just more aware of it. But it does seem to be more prevalent. I am talking about anger and hate filled language spoken from American pulpits.
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What Do Obama, Clinton and McCain All Have in Common?
What do Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain have in common? All three are ontologically white males. No one can become the leader of the world's most powerful country (empire?) unless they are committed to what male whiteness symbolizes within the colonial process.
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4,000 War Dead More Than Just a Number
The number of dead Americans in Iraq passed 4,000 this week. It was almost lost in the midst of the Easter holidays. I only knew one of those 4,000, but it changed my view of the families that have lost, the soldiers who fight and the awful cost of war.
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Voting Values
The media has been ablaze with the story of my recent local congressman known as Charlie "Good Times" Wilson.
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Context Key to Understanding Jeremiah Wright's Remarks
Last week Barack Obama did two remarkable things. First he risked speaking directly to the reality of racism in America and American history. Obama framed his remarks with his signature phrase of "the audacity of hope." He claimed that his populist candidacy for the presidency is proof that audacious hope has a place in today's America.
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Easter Message From Baptist Leader: Don't 'Crucify' Vulnerable Australians
As Easter approaches this year, Australian Christians and Australian churches will retell and reflect on the great gospel events--the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As we look back on the gospel story that, more than any other, gives meaning and purpose to all we do, it is important also to look to the present and future and to re-examine our motives and priorities in the light of the central gospel event.
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Why I Believe in the Resurrection
Sunday Christians around the world celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. The resurrection is viewed by believers just about everywhere as the foundation of Christianity. They assert that by raising Jesus from the dead God has defeated death and secured for all who have faith the gift of eternal life.
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African-American Baptist Group Protests Boot-Camp Death
Meeting under protest in Panama City, Fla., leaders of Florida's largest black Baptist organization pledged to use the 2006 death of a 14-year-old African-American youth at a boot-camp style detention center to inspire new programs aimed at keeping young men out of trouble.
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Knowing a Second Language a Must Today
Living between two great oceans, North Americans generally tend to think of English as being the only language necessary. Unfortunately it is common to hear the sneer, "If they want to talk to us, let them learn English."
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Obama Criticizes But Refuses to 'Disown' Controversial Pastor
In a speech widely touted as one of the most important of his presidential campaign, Sen. Barack Obama on Tuesday denounced incendiary comments by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright but refused to disown his pastor of 20 years.
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Barack Obama Talks Straight on Race
This has been a remarkable morning. It started with a phone call from Tony Brown, a radio talk show host in Alexandria, La. On the show with me were Jerriel Bazile, whose brother stands accused of selling drugs to an FBI agent in Bunkie, La., and a woman whose son has been charged in a shooting. We talked about the adversarial relationship between the Bunkie police force and the poor black community. Yesterday, Mr. Bazile reported, 100 Bunkie residents gathered to protest and organize.
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Descending and Ascending
The writer of the Gospel of John has John the Witness (a.k.a. John the Baptist in the other Gospels) saying, upon seeing Jesus approaching him:
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What Does Suffering Mean for Us and Jesus?
Suffering is at the heart of the Christian gospel. The Gospels themselves are stories, with long introductions, about the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus calls us to choose suffering for the sake of His kingdom as He himself chose to suffer for the Kingdom of God. We say that His suffering redeems us--but how?
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Did Skin Pigmentation or Prophetic Imagination Fuel Jesus' Vision?
What color was Jesus? Was it skin pigmentation that determined Jesus' message or was it the prophetic imagination that defined his mission? Are pigmentation and imagination separable or inseparable? How is it that we remake Jesus in our own image?
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Name Calling in the Name of Jesus
I've been following an interesting back and forth between two prominent American religious figures. The individuals involved are Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, and Randall Balmer, an Episcopal priest and professor of American religious history at Columbia University.
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The Real Jesus Offends Us
When I was working on my Ph.D. in Edinburgh, Scotland, I would often take breaks from my writing and roam Auld Reekie, as Edinburgh is affectionately known. One of my favorite places of respite from the grind of writing a dissertation was the National Gallery. There I could view in peace the creative works from the great artists of history.
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Bill Granting FDA Regulation of Tobacco Clears Committee
An American Baptist leader welcomed passage by a House panel of a bill that would grant the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authority to regulate tobacco products.
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Has the World Gone Crazy for Guns?
A picture of a handsome 16-year-old black student shot to death in a parking lot recently ran across the top of the page of our daily newspaper. Another recent story described gun brandishing and a near-killing nearby. What is this, "Gunsmoke?"
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Bring Your Bible to Church--And Your Gun
"Git out the old six-shooter, Ma, we're goin' to church." That might sound like it's from a Hollywood western, but it may not be fiction for long.
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Richard Land's Apology Was Not an Apology
Richard Land has apologized for referring to Senator Charles Schumer as the "schmuck from New York."
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Timidity on Global Warming Comes from Lack of Special Revelation
Unless a 21st century Moses comes down from Stone Mountain with a new commandment about global warming, don't expect the majority of Southern Baptist clergy to tackle the issue of human-induced climate change. Scientific consensus simply isn't enough to trigger responsible moral action for those who demand the absolute certainty of divine revelation.
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Jimmy Carter Appeals for Release of Imprisoned Baptist Pastor in Azerbaijan
A campaign to free an imprisoned Baptist pastor in Azerbaijan received a boost when former U.S. President Jimmy Carter intervened on his behalf.
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Extreme Religious Endorsements
Sen. Barack Obama recently received an endorsement from a controversial religious leader who promotes hate toward certain groups. Ironically, Sen. John McCain was endorsed by another religious leader who also promotes hate toward certain groups.
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Reaction Mixed to SBC Leader Calling Jewish Senator a 'Schmuck'
Should a Southern Baptist Convention leader resign for using a Yiddish slur against a Jewish senator, or is it "much ado about not much?" That's the range of reaction to Monday's EthicsDaily.com story quoting Ethics & Religious Liberty head Richard Land calling New York Senator Chuck Schumer a "schmuck."
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The Ethics of Waterboarding
On Feb. 22, the Justice Department revealed that an internal ethics review conducted by the Office of Professional Responsibility is investigating the CIA's use of waterboarding.
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Study Says 1 in 100 Americans Behind Bars
For the first time, more than one in every 100 Americans is behind bars, disproportionally affecting people of color and the young and competing for tax dollars with needed government programs like education.
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White House Religious Liaison Steps Down Over Plagiarism Charge
President Bush's liaison to the Religious Right resigned Friday after admitting that he plagiarized articles he wrote for his hometown newspaper.
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SBC Leader Uses Obscene Slur to Describe Jewish Senator
A Southern Baptist leader lecturing at Criswell College used a gutter word to describe a Jewish U.S. senator.
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Faith in America: Believers on Pilgrimage
The Los Angeles Times recently featured a new study from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. The results offer a snapshot of faith in America--although "home movie," might be a more accurate description of the report. People of faith in America are on the move--it's like a pilgrimage.
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The Faith of Jesus Refuses the Politics of Fear
On Sept. 11, 2001, Americans entered into a daily existence that much of the world already experienced; living with the continual threat of terrorism. Yet, since that tragic day, we have been gripped by the oppressive power of fear, a fear that the media and our political leaders want to consistently bring to our attention. While appropriate measures of security are necessary to defend against violence, fear only suppresses our desire to live with a sense of hope, and it essentially leads us away from living life with faith in the face of fear.
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Legislator Featured in 'Golden Rule Politics' Running for Congress
A Missouri legislator and pastor's wife who appears in a Baptist Center for Ethics DVD about faith and politics is running for Congress.
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Pray or Prey: Take Your Pick
I was listening to NPR the other day and learned of a prayer movement called Light the Highway that runs prayer vigils along Interstate 35 from Texas to Minnesota. The group asks God to do away with systemic poverty, drug addiction and hopelessness, along with other plagues like homosexuality and abortion.
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Don't Worry, Live Abundantly
Midway through the Sermon on the Mount there is the passage from Matthew 6:25, "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear."
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A New Voice for the Faithful
The expression, "there at the beginning," took on special meaning for me this past week. I was witness to the birth of a new movement in Alabama, a movement which has the potential to redefine the way faith communities confront social concerns in our state. The movement has a name: the Alabama Faith Council.
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Jesus' Political Message Pronounced Judgment on Imperial Power
Most readers of the Gospels are familiar with Jesus' confrontations with demons. Throughout his ministry, Jesus encountered many individuals who were said to be possessed by unclean spirits; spirits who were in direct opposition to Jesus' mission, but who ultimately could not stand against the power which Jesus thrust upon them. While these stories convey various levels of meaning, there is one in particular that suggests that Jesus' political mission opposed the arrogant power of empire.
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New Covenant Baptists Must Grasp 'Other Reality' of Diversity
I am writing this short article in the afterglow of the Atlanta event that celebrated the New Baptist Covenant. The overall response from the Canadian contingent, even though our participation was more as observers than egalitarian partners, was that the speakers were inspiring and the workshops stimulating.
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New Baptist Covenant: One-Time Event, or Beginning of a Movement?
To an outsider, the main impetus for the New Baptist Covenant, supported by 30 Baptist denominations and groups in North America might seem clear: an opportunity for the Baptists of North America to re-group after the years of controversy centered on the Southern Baptist Convention and its withdrawal from the Baptist World Alliance.
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It's Been a Long Time Since I've Wanted to Rededicate My Life at a Baptist Meeting
The New Baptist Covenant meeting was, without doubt, the most inspiring, uplifting, heart-warming and stimulating meeting in my lifetime. It was also the first time I've been proud of being a Baptist in at least 30 years.
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Appeals to Anti-Semitism, Racism, Mar Democratic Congressional Race
A Tennessee congressional candidate is being criticized for not disavowing a flier that says the incumbent and Jews hate Jesus.
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Florida Education Board Should Stick to Science, Avoid Theology
The Florida Board of Education should discount a letter from the top official of the Florida Baptist Convention opposing the approval of language for the new science standards that reads: "Evolution is the fundamental concept underlying all of biology and is supported by multiple forms of scientific evidence."
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Jesus Was an Alien, Speaker Says
Christians have an obligation to reject negative attitudes and false assumptions about immigrants, in part because their Savior was an alien in Egypt, Christian ethicist and EthicsDaily.com columnist Miguel De La Torre said in a Friday lecture at Belmont University.
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To Become a Movement, New Baptist Covenant Must Look to Future
January's historic Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of a new movement in Baptist life. Those of us who were fortunate enough to attend enjoyed three days of fellowship and reconciliation with Baptist brothers and sisters from all walks of life, absolutely incredible, God-inspired preaching, and chances to learn about ways to help heal those who have been broken by our sinful world.
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Al Gore the Prophet
From time to time throughout this long presidential campaign, I have heard several people say they wish Al Gore would get into the race. I am not one of them. I don't want the former vice president to run for president, because it would distract him from the important work he is doing in the cause of the environment. The consequences of that campaign have truly global significance.
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Jesus' Political Message Judged the Immorality of Poverty
One of the sad facts about American Christianity is that many Christians are ignorant of the political nature of Jesus' message. Preferring to see Jesus in only spiritual terms, and his message as only about salvation and heaven, we often miss the significance of Jesus as a political figure.
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American Television Sells Viewers Short on News That Matters
Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, went on record criticizing our United States administration for the many problems encountered as a result of the war in Iraq.
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The New Baptist Covenant Celebration: A Grand Experiment
The New Baptist Covenant Celebration was a great success. Bringing together Baptists from various denominational communities, theological traditions, ethnicities and geographic locations was an unprecedented venture.
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Reflection on the New Baptist Covenant: Where Do We Go From Here?
The New Baptist Covenant meeting was a wonderful gathering of like-minded Baptists. I have been invited to reflect and evaluate the meeting, consider what the future might hold for this kind of meeting and provide suggestions for local and hemispheric actions. Let me start with an evaluation using the name of the meeting:
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Huckabee Elevates Ten Commandments Above Secular Laws
If everyone obeyed the Ten Commandments and New Testament, there would be less need for laws to be enforced by the government, Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said Sunday in a Baptist church.
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Conservative Critics Lambast Gore's New Baptist Covenant Address
Former President Jimmy Carter declared unanimous support for Al Gore's creation-care mandate in front a supportive audience of 2,500 Baptists at a luncheon gathering Jan. 31 in Atlanta, but not all response was positive outside the banquet hall.
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McCain Can't Enter Promised Land of Presidency Without Miracle of Christian Right Support
The Republican Party is heading toward a spiritual smack down. In one corner are the party officials, waving the placards of pragmatic compromise. In the other corner are the conservative Christian leaders, holding high the cross of moral conviction. Their grudge match is over presidential candidate John McCain, who has received no endorsements from any significant Christian Right leader and downright opposition from the movement's indisputable head: James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, whose radio audience reaches millions of listeners daily.
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Baptists Found Their Voice Again at New Baptist Covenant Celebration
Anyone who has been around Baptist preachers very long knows that the old simile about us being like manure is embarrassingly true: spread us around and we do a little good, but get us all together and we stink to the high heavens.
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Reflections on a New Baptist Covenant
I was privileged this past week to participate in a truly historic event. Baptist groups from all across North America, even from around the world, gathered in Atlanta for a three-day show of Christian unity. The event, dubbed a New Baptist Covenant, brought together white Baptists, African-American Baptists, Hispanic Baptists, Asian Baptists and others. We all joined hands and lifted our voices praising God. And we prayed, prayed for a return to traditional Baptist principles.
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Sacrifice Was Jesus' Master Plan
Today is Ash Wednesday. It is a time to think of sacrifice. It is a time to think of willing sacrifice. We give something up; usually physical in nature to appreciate the sacrifice of the cross and to sharpen our spiritual vision for Easter, which is just around the corner.
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Living With Our Fallibility
It has been a pesky problem from the very beginning. Adam, who walked with God in the cool of the garden, could not follow one simple proscription. Abraham, called by God to be the progenitor of a great nation, lied about Sarah being his wife to save his own hide. Moses, chosen from among all the people of the world to receive God's law, could not follow simple instructions like hitting the rock once instead of twice. And let's not forget about King David. In a single stroke, David managed to mangle four of the Ten Commandments.
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Living With Our Fallibility
It has been a pesky problem from the very beginning. Adam, who walked with God in the cool of the garden, could not follow one simple proscription. Abraham, called by God to be the progenitor of a great nation, lied about Sarah being his wife to save his own hide. Moses, chosen from among all the people of the world to receive God's law, could not follow simple instructions like hitting the rock once instead of twice. And let's not forget about King David. In a single stroke, David managed to mangle four of the Ten Commandments.
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Clinton Details 1993 Meeting with President of Southern Baptist Convention
If President Bill Clinton ever had a prayer with the leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention, it was right after a meeting on Sept. 16, 1993, with then-SBC president Ed Young.
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Gore Urges New Covenant Baptists to Take Up Mantle of Creation Care
Former Vice President Al Gore challenged 2,500 fellow Baptists at a Thursday luncheon with prophetic zeal to take up the mantle of reversing global warming.
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Author John Grisham Offers Tips to Restore Baptists' Good Name
Why are Baptists so often viewed as narrow, intolerant, politically naïve and prone to internal warfare?
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Jimmy Carter Rates New Baptist Covenant Celebration His 'Most Momentous' Religious Event
One of the world's most famous Baptists, Jimmy Carter accepted Christ at age 11 and began teaching Bible lessons 65 years ago.
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Clinton Challenges 'Epidemic of Indifference' in Address to African-American Baptists
The past seven years in Washington have seen an "epidemic of indifference" and a "collective turning of the government's back" on people in need, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton told a joint meeting of four major African-American Baptist groups Wednesday in Atlanta.
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Republican Power Structure Used Religious Conservatives, Panelists Say
The Republican Party used religious conservatives in a machine manufactured and bankrolled by fiscal conservatives, reaping benefits like tax cuts and new business opportunities, a group of panelists said in a Tuesday screening of "Golden Rule Politics" in Atlanta.
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Constantinian Christianity
Erick Prince, founder of Blackwater, testified last fall before the House Oversight and Government reform committee concerning his company's activities in Iraq. Steeped in conservative Christian traditions, the Prince dynasty has deep Republican roots whose fortunes were freely spent to support religious causes like James Dobson's Focus on the Family or provide seed money for the Family Research Council, ran by former presidential candidate Gary Bauer.
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Life Lessons From Father to Son
After 31 years as a parent you would think I would have some sense of competence about the task. Well, I don't. If anything, as time goes along, I feel more perplexed than ever.
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Study Says Bush White House Made 937 False Statements in Lead-Up to War
A study released days before tonight's State of the Union address says President Bush and seven of his administration's top officials made at least 937 false statements about the national security threat of Saddam Hussein's Iraq in the two years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
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Huckabee Speaks Via Phone to Church, Despite Clergy Sex-Abuse Scandal
A day after canceling a Sunday-night sermon at a north Florida Baptist church facing pending lawsuits that allege molestation and cover-up, Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee decided instead to address the congregation live via telephone.
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Death in the Congo
Last week the International Rescue Committee released its latest mortality survey for the Democratic Republic of Congo. They do a survey every 2-3 years; the methodology is as sound as it can be given the circumstances, and these surveys are widely acknowledged as the best estimate of how many people have died as a result of Congo's wars.
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Urgent Invitation to 'An Inconvenient Truth' Screening at New Baptist Covenant
Unpublicized is a jewel of an opportunity for Baptists concerned about the environment. If you want to know more about global warming and what you can do, then attend one of two special screenings of "An Inconvenient Truth" during the New Baptist Covenant gathering next week in Atlanta and interface with two Baptist ministers who have shown the documentary in their churches.
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Huckabee Not Speaking at Church Mired in Sex-Abuse Scandal
Mike Huckabee will not be speaking this weekend at a north Florida Baptist church facing pending lawsuits that allege molestation and cover-up. His campaign says he never agreed to it in the first place, contradicting a press release sent out by the church, while a support group for victims says he backed out after they complained.
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A Godly Constitution
If elected president of the United States Governor Mike Huckabee plans to bring the U.S. Constitution into alignment with God:
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Huckabee Schedules Campaign Stop at Church in Center of Clergy Sex-Abuse Scandal
Mike Huckabee's scheduled Sunday night campaign stop in Florida will be in a Baptist church at the center of a nearly two-year-old scandal involving alleged sexual abuse by clergy.
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Educating Tim LaHaye
Dear Rev. LaHaye: You may not be aware that someone wrote a fictional letter to the editor to the USA TODAY and signed your name to it. I'm sure you would be concerned that someone would dare impersonate you, so I'm just giving you a heads up.
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The Misunderstood Man From Nazareth
Back in November of last year Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) sent letters for financial information from six of the countless mega-church television preachers. The senator was widely portrayed as persecuting these millionaire preachers. The offended preachers surrounded their auditors with lawyers and let the senators, IRS and anyone interested know that they were not responding to such insolent questions.
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Help Wanted: Black Friend
The great modern-day theologian--Steven Colbert of the popular Comedy Central show "The Colbert Report"--recently began accepting applications for the position of his very own "black friend."
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Pulitzer Journalist, President's Grandson Panelists for 'Golden Rule Politics' Screening in Atlanta
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Cynthia Tucker and Jason Carter, grandson of former President Jimmy Carter and co-founder of a grassroots service organization called Democrats Work headline a panel discussion following a screening of the Baptist Center for Ethics DVD "Golden Rule Politics" Jan. 29 in Atlanta.
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White Supremacists Headline Martin Luther King Day Protest in Jena
A controversial "pro-majority" group gathers today in Jena, La., to protest both the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and last September's rally that brought thousands of African-Americans to the small town in solidarity with six arrested black teens now famous as the Jena Six.
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In Memory Of Martin Luther King
In his elegant little book, "Finally Comes the Poet," Walter Brueggemann writes that the task of the preacher is to be "a voice that shatters settled reality and evokes new possibilities." If he is right about that, then no preacher in the last century has been more effective than Martin Luther King, Jr. His words helped shatter the settled reality of segregation. He also gave voice to the possibility of what he called the "beloved community."
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Al Mohler for President--of the SBC
Amidst the intense campaigning for the presidency of the United States, there is a smaller yet significant campaign of another type taking shape--the campaign for president of the Southern Baptist Convention.
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Jerusalem Should Be a City of Peace for People of All Faiths
On May 14, 1948, the modern State of Israel declared its sovereignty as an independent state and a home for the Jewish people. That action opened a floodgate of violence that continues to this day, and it created a human catastrophe as nearly a million Palestinians were forced from their homes and became refugees--a number that, according to the United Nations, has increased exponentially.
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Romney's Politics Aren't Christian
On Dec. 5, Mitt Romney gave an excellent speech at Texas A&M University about the relationship between church and state. He asked evangelicals to take an inclusive outlook toward his Mormon faith, and he urged Americans not to exclude the language of faith from our national discourse.
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Face-Based Religion
"God is in His Heaven, and the hypocrites are in His church." Now before you send me hate mail about being anti-Christian, I am only paraphrasing the results of a LifeWay Research survey on church affiliation. LifeWay is part of the Southern Baptist Convention headquartered in Nashville, Tenn.
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Moderate Leader Says Huckabee Lied About SBC Statement on Wifely Submission
Baptist Press reported that Mike Huckabee said he "stands by" a Southern Baptist statement on wifely submission, but a moderate leader says the former Arkansas governor misrepresented what the statement really says in last Thursday's GOP presidential debate in Columbia, S.C.
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One Nation, Indivisible?
Over the holidays my wife and I enjoyed watching the movie classic "The Bells of St. Mary's." It's not really a Christmas movie, but it has all the themes of faith and grace that we celebrate during the season, and the story has a nice holiday feel to it.
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George W. Bush Interview in the Year 2050
In the Year of our Lord, 2050, a press conference at the ranch near the Crawford city limits was just beginning. By 2050, the Crawford air terminal had been named Heck-of-a-Job International Airport. The local school was named the Laura Bush High School.
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A Position Opposing Abortion Does Not Make One Pro-Life
In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down one of its most memorable decisions in the Roe v. Wade case. That decision viewed laws that banned abortion as violations of constitutional rights to privacy and gave women the right to terminate unwanted pregnancies. Since that decision, the issue of abortion has been center stage in each election campaign for president, and the debates that have raged have divided the United States along entrenched partisan lines to the point where both sides feel so passionate about their views that they have mischaracterized the other side's position.
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Huckabee's Religious Views Worry Jews
Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee's fundamentalist Christian credentials may be winning him votes among conservative evangelicals, but they are backfiring with another important voting demographic--liberal Jews.
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Christians Should Respond to the Immigration Debate with the Compassion of Christ
The Christmas Season has once again come and gone. Presents have been opened and exchanged, decorations have been stored for another year, and resolutions have been made to start the New Year. The ever-familiar Christmas story lives on in our hearts and minds, narrating for us the incarnation of God into the world in the person of Jesus. Yet, while we celebrate and retell the story with feelings of warmth and comfort, from its beginning to its end the story is a narrative about the rejection of Jesus as a stranger and alien in a foreign land.
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Pat Robertson Predicts Stock-Market Crash, Rising Gold Prices and Spiritual Breakthrough in China
Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson predicted global violence and chaos in 2008, along with economic recession in the United States, in annual prognostications broadcast on Wednesday's "700 Club" television program.
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New Year Hopes and Wishes
I don't do New Year's resolutions anymore. However, I do have a few New Year's hopes and wishes.
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Christmas Star Gets Its Due on Epiphany
(Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly) Christmas, despite what the calendar says, isn't over. And the star--"star of wonder, star of night, star with royal beauty bright"--that shone over Bethlehem won't go dim until it gets its proper due on Epiphany on Sunday.
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Looking Into the Eyes Of Jesus
During the Christmas holidays, several news outlets carried an article about Rudy Giuliani reading the Christmas story at a children's home in Harlem. The heart-warming headline was followed by a story explaining that he is following up on a 14-year tradition. Every December Giuliani goes to the children's home to read "Twas the Night before Christmas."
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Seasonal Charity and Biblical Justice
The holiday season from Thanksgiving to Christmas is the most intensely charitable time of the whole year. Church and civic groups gather clothes, food, and toys for needy families. Volunteers make their way to homeless shelters and soup kitchens. Busy shoppers dutifully drop their change into Salvation Army buckets.
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Huckabee Linked to Controversial Bible Teacher Bill Gothard
Presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee has ties to a controversial Bible teacher known for authoritarian views that critics say border on spiritual abuse.
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Bruce Springsteen, Immigration and the American Dream
Bruce Springsteen's lyrics describe an America big enough for immigrants and immigration, decent enough to remember that those who come here are driven by their desperate faith in the American Dream, and hopeful enough to acknowledge that though this country can at times be a very hard land, American joy, goodness, generosity, and heroism are real.
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Transforming Poverty by Reconsidering Our Citizenship
The power of our communities lies in the ideals of our common humanity. To continue to live in separate villages whose cohesiveness is ephemeral at best, or in gated communities of homogeneity, will only enhance everyone's poverty.
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The More Things Change, the More They Change: A Christmas Memoir
As a child I would go to bed on Christmas Eve so excited I could hardly sleep. Of course, part of the problem was that the last words I heard from Mama before I went to bed were "Go to sleep now; Santa Claus won't come if you're awake." So I went to bed terrified that I wouldn't be able to sleep and certain that if I didn't sleep then there would be no gifts for me.
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There's 'Joy' in the Manger
Through the years I have enjoyed observing countless living nativity scenes during the holiday season. Most of these scenes are staged on the lawns of church campuses or they are incorporated into annual Christmas pageants. Many of the scenes include both human characterization and a menagerie of live animals.
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Who Is Jesus?
As we make our way to Christmas Day when millions of Christians worldwide celebrate the birth of Jesus, perhaps it's worth asking, "Who is Jesus?"
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Homeschoolers Not Monolithic In Support for Huckabee
National media describe an army of homeschoolers propelling Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee over the top in Iowa, but several blogs suggest not all home educators are marching in lockstep.
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Thompson Grossly Overstates Endorsement of '40 Million' Wesleyans
Presidential candidate Fred Thompson spoke ministerially--a euphemism in preacher circles for inflating numbers from the pulpit--when he claimed endorsement by two men representing 40 million Wesleyans, according to a newspaper report.
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The Kingdom of God is Ultimate Reality
The Kingdom that Jesus taught is ultimate reality--reality that cannot be transgressed without dire consequences. "The wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23.)
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Barbie Poisoning
I remember the year I eased the Barbie ban. It started with a lazy holiday shrug and ended with a dozen naked plastic bodies strewn about the house.
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Are Africans Hard Wired to Read the Old Testament?
A story is making the rounds in religious news about a recent address by Phillip Jenkins of Pennsylvania State University to the Evangelical Theological Society in November. Jenkins argued that Africans are often able to read the Old Testament in a more productive way because of close connections between the culture of ancient Israel and their own present cultures.
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Judge Says White House Must Release Visitor Logs for Nine Religious Right Leaders
A federal judge on Monday ordered the Bush administration to release information about when nine prominent religious conservatives visited the White House, rejecting arguments by the administration the records should be kept secret to protect confidentiality of presidential and vice presidential deliberations.
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Witness to Christ
As I was leaving the Opryland Hotel at the end of my volunteer shift at the 76th annual general assembly of the United Jewish Communities, an elderly man walking with his wife stopped me to ask why there were so many people wearing kippot (yarmulkes). Pointing to my kipah he said, "For a moment I thought I was in Israel."
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People of Faith Should Vote with a Well-Informed Religious Conscience
The Christmas season has arrived again and the hustle and bustle of the holiday rush will occupy our time and thoughts over the coming weeks. Yet, another event is beginning to seek our attention that will captivate our minds for the next year; the 2008 presidential election.
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Advent: Waiting for the World to Change
John Mayer's song called "Waiting for the World to Change" has been my head as I think about Christmas. Mayer writes compelling lyrics about how we often feel like we don't have the power to change our world. "Now we see everything that's going wrong/with the world and those who lead it/we just feel like we don't have the means/to rise above and beat it." So we keep waiting, Mayer says, waiting for the world to change.
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Is Violence Among Humans Inevitable?
This Christmas season has been tragically scarred by a series of senseless violent acts. Shopping malls and churches are the latest venues for troubled individuals to take out their frustrations on the innocent.
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Immigration IS a Social Issue
Immigration continues to dominate much of the discussion among Republican presidential candidates. The issue sparked a fierce back-and-forth exchange between candidates Rudy Guiliani and Mitt Romney during the recent CNN/YouTube debate.
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Megachurch Probe Challenges All Church Ministries
Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) dropped a bomb on a small segment of the church world in the United States on Nov. 6. But it has the potential of creating shock waves that may have long-term effects for many congregations in church-state relations, financial accountability and understanding of clergy income and taxes.
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Paul Pressler Endorses Fred Thompson
Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson picked up a rare endorsement from a religious leader--a Southern Baptist layman credited with rescuing the nation's second largest faith group from what he and others viewed as a liberal drift.
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Huckabee's 1992 Statement on HIV/AIDS Policy Raises Disturbing Questions
In 1992, Mike Huckabee was running for a seat in the United States Senate. As part of that process, he filled out the questionnaire sent to candidates by the Associated Press, which they use to develop background knowledge for reporting on the candidates. These statements were recently reprinted by the New York Times.
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E-mail Hoaxes, 'Forwards' Fly Among Presidential Campaigns
Democratic and Republican presidential candidates alike have been targeted by recent e-mail hoaxes and what might be termed the "dirty forward."
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New Baptist Covenant Celebration Must Avoid Appearance of Partisanship
I am a supporter of the Celebration of the New Baptist Covenant. I hope the meeting will enhance Baptist relationships and Baptist witness. Still, I see a potential problem with the political image it may present.
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A Parable of Christmas for Our Time
I have been trying to come up with a parable for the Christmas season. I wanted to write a story that would capture the mood of this strange religious time we live in. But before I could even get my imagination cranked, reality came along with something much better than any thing I might dream up.
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Romney Misfires in Faith Speech, Offers Building Blocks for the Future
Mitt Romney's "Faith in America" speech was more patriotism than piety and more civic faith than Mormon faith. Romney is no John Kennedy.
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The Ballad of John and John (Ode to John Lennon)
Every year when December hits, we hear a lot about John. That's John, as in the strange and hairy man screaming as loud as he can that we've really messed up the world, and we all better get our act straight before it's too late.
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Persecution of Christians in Iraq Grows
Before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, a minority of Christian leaders protested the preemptive war. Among them were bishops of the United Methodist Church, President Bush's church. Many Christian denominations chose to remain silent.
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Reinvite Huckabee to Speak at New Baptist Covenant
Republican presidential candidate and Southern Baptist preacher Mike Huckabee needs to speak at the New Baptist Covenant Celebration on Wednesday night, Jan. 30, 2008, in Atlanta. He needs the support of goodwill Baptists--Baptists of goodwill need his support.
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The Link Between Politics and Religion
Nearly every week someone complains that my column is not about "faith matters." The accusation is that I write more about politics than faith and should therefore call the column "political matters."
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Lunchtime: Eating for the Benefit of Everyone Else
In many churches, food is as commonplace as pews, choir robes and altar calls. In fact, potluck is as much a part of the Christian vernacular as prayer, peace and pastor. Therefore, the call to eat for the benefit of others is an important one in the life of a Christian and a Christian community.
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Romney Tries to Thread Impossible Theological Needle
Religion is neither a qualifier nor a disqualifier for public office, unless you are a Mormon, one of your opponents is a Southern Baptist and you are both running for the presidential nomination of your party.
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'Do You Believe This Book?' Question at GOP Debate Referred to King James Version
The man who asked Republican presidential candidates if they believe every word of the Bible in Wednesday's CNN/YouTube debate says he wasn't satisfied by any of the answers he heard.
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Make Your Own Gifts This Season
'Tis the season to go crazy.
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Jimmy Draper, Jerry Falwell Jr., Ronnie Floyd All Voice Support for Huckabee
Former pastor and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee continued to emerge as a front-runner for religious conservatives, picking up endorsements from the son of the late Jerry Falwell and from a former opponent in Baptist politics in Arkansas.
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EthicsDaily.com Submits Video for Republican CNN/YouTube Debate
The second CNN/YouTube presidential debate airs tonight, and EthicsDaily.com took part in the process by submitting a question for consideration.
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Creeds, Covenant and Community
Creeds developed early in the history of the church. "Jesus is Lord" may well have been the earliest one. The Apostle's Creed came later, followed by a number of creeds developed and approved by church councils. Most early Protestants continued to generate creeds.
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Huckabee Touts Christian Credentials in Second TV Ad
GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, an ordained Southern Baptist minister, targets conservative Christians in his new television ad airing this week in Iowa.
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Rabbi Rambles on Rain, Righteousness
Remember Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue's prayer vigil to let God know Georgians are conserving water and should be rewarded with rain? Well it worked--sort of.
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Make Christmas More About Giving, Less About Consumption
Christmas is not your birthday--unless you're Jimmy Buffet, Clara Barton or Jesus, that is. But you already knew that.
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My Meeting With Ian Smith
Ian Smith, the former white minority president of Southern Rhodesia, has died. Smith and his supporters unilaterally (and illegally) declared independence from the United Kingdom in 1965 and ran a white minority regime for 14 years, until an insurgency led by Robert Mugabe finally forced him into peace talks at Lancaster House in 1979.
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In Search Of Christmas
Now that Thanksgiving is over it's time to begin preparing for Christmas in earnest. Unfortunately with the arrival of the season also comes the accompanying lunacy. I refer of course to the annual battle to save Christmas. The decision by many retailers to use the inclusive language of "Happy Holidays," rather than "Merry Christmas," has become the latest battleground for conservative Christians' war on culture.
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Being in God's Place and Time
The nurse who greeted us in the emergency room was pleasant and efficient. I could not help noticing, however, the colorful tattoo on her right forearm. Below the tattoo were two additional figures, which looked like Chinese characters.
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Keeping Perspective When Things Go Wrong
Sitting around the dinner table with friends talk turned to the war and our frustrations with so much that is wrong with our world. Someone said they were tired of politicians who kept up the shell games of half-truths. Another volunteered that they were tired of worrying about economy and oil and terrorism and the bleak future. Someone said they were just tired of saying goodbye to some special people who had made their own journey just a little easier. The more we talked, the more hopeless we became.
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Movie Star, Motivational Speaker, Pro Wrestler All Endorse Huckabee as Best Conservative Christian Candidate
Baptist motivational speaker Zig Ziglar and "Left Behind" co-author Jerry Jenkins joined a growing list of faith leaders and celebrities endorsing former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee for president.
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Huckabee Criticized for Ties to Prosperity-Gospel Preacher Kenneth Copeland
A Southern Baptist seminary professor criticized Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee for joining forces with a prosperity-gospel preacher under Senate investigation for his ministry's finances.
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U.S. Senator Requests Donation Information of TV Evangelists
Back in the 16th century, the Dominican monk Tetzel, to fulfill the pope's demands, preached from village to village how the faithful could shorten the time of their loved ones in purgatory with a few shekels. According to Roland Bainton's classic life of Martin Luther, Tetzel would say to the villagers:
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New Day Revolution: How to Save the World in 24 Hours
Did you hear the one about the Christian going into the coffee shop?
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Georgia's Governor, Baptists, Turn To God During Drought
Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network reported Wednesday's half-inch rain across parts of Georgia was "certainly an answer to prayer."
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Torture and the Appearance of Evil
Perception is reality. It's not the only reality, but it is real to the one perceiving it. Perceptions can change, but until they do, what someone perceives as being real is real--to them.
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Southern Baptist Scholar Warns Against 'Giulianiazation' of Evangelical Politics
A Southern Baptist scholar says Pat Robertson's endorsement of Rudy Giuliani signals a larger "Giulianiazation" of evangelical Christianity that he views as dangerous.
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Pluralism Challenges Exclusiveness of Christianity
There is no doubt that 21st century America is more religiously diverse than any previous century. This may be due mostly to the 1965 Immigration Act that abolished an immigration policy that was exclusive to European immigrants.
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Former Southern Baptist Leader Calls for Boycott of Pat Robertson
A former vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention has called for a boycott of CBN and the "700 Club" until founder Pat Robertson "repents" of endorsing Rudy Giuliani for president.
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Dobson Denies He is Endorsing Huckabee; SBC Leaders Voice Support
Focus on the Family founder James Dobson denied in Monday's radio broadcast an Internet report that claimed he is on the brink of endorsing Mike Huckabee for president.
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Veterans Day Creates a Ministry Dilemma
Veterans Day creates a ministry dilemma. As a pastor and religious leader, how can I be faithful in teaching what I believe to be central to following Christ and yet not unduly offend others?
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Revival of the Domino Theory
During the middle of the last century there were lots of opinions about a domino theory in Southeast Asia. With the defeat of the Japanese in 1945 there was a new breath of fresh air--freedom. The European and American governments were slow to see this coming.
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Tennessee Democratic Head Says Progressive Religious Voices Drowned Out By Religious Right
The chairman of Tennessee's Democratic Party says it's time that progressive religious voices stop being drowned out by the Religious Right.
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No Clergy Endorsements for Thompson Create Religion-Free Zone Campaign
Why aren't Christian Right leaders endorsing Fred Thompson? They are certainly backing his competitors for the Republican Party's presidential nomination, even those who are alien to their moral and doctrinal orthodoxy.
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A Crisis of Faith
Since the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan, conservative evangelicals have served as a formidable political force. Comprising over one the third of the electorate, evangelicals voting in concert have faithfully delivered numerous victories to conservative candidates.
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A Crisis of Faith
Since the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan, conservative evangelicals have served as a formidable political force. Comprising over one the third of the electorate, evangelicals voting in concert have faithfully delivered numerous victories to conservative candidates.
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Finding Good News in Jena
Last month I watched the events in Jena, La., unfold with particular interest. Jena is hometown to one of my aunts. I have friends from college and in Louisiana life who grew up in Jena and who have family living there now. I was born in Alexandria, about 30 miles away.
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Seekers After Less Than God
A story that appeared recently in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution set me to thinking about the ethics of attending church as a "seeker."
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Minister Says Churches Sacrifice Prophetic Voice for Political Gain in DVD to be Screened in Nashville
Instead of using God as a political wedge, American Christians ought to pray to be used by God, says Tim Alexander, a Church of Christ minister in Nashville, Tenn.
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God's Economics: Choosing Who Gets What
Economics is like a game of musical chairs. There are not enough chairs in the world for everyone to have as many as they would like. But rather than play music and race to the nearest chair, we have an auction, and those with the most money buy their chairs while those without are left standing.
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Scarborough Defends Huckabee's Role in SBC Holy War
Vision America founder Rick Scarborough is defending presidential candidate Mike Huckabee against those who criticize him for sitting out the Southern Baptist Convention's theological wars.
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It Starts When You're Always Afraid
Fear is a great motivator. Nothing gets folks moving like a good jolt to the adrenal system. Marketing gurus understand this very well. That's why so much of what we are offered for consumption, from mouthwash to politics, is wrapped in fear.
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A Christian and a Democrat
"I can't vote for a Democrat," a man once told me. "I'm a Christian." He spoke these two labels as if they were a set of antonyms. He could not grasp my attempts to explain that one label referred to a religion while the other referred to a political party. Some preacher had told him that all Christians are Republicans, and he had accepted this factoid without thinking.
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Church, State Should Remain Separate for Theological Reasons
In the year 313, Roman Emperor Constantine issued the Edict of Milan. This decree, which came as a result of Constantine believing that the Christian God had given him victory over his enemy, and thus sole power in the Empire, reversed the persecution that had been sporadically carried out against Christians.
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Baptist Seminary's Homemaking Degree Doesn't Go Far Enough
Just as exciting as Messiah College students being able to take classes from yours truly, this fall also brought undergraduates at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary the opportunity to concentrate in homemaking while earning a humanities degree.
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What Drives the Theology of Blame That Follows Disasters?
Theological declarations of blame follow terrible disasters.
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Lawyer Group Urges Moratorium on Executions; SBC Leader Favors Death Penalty
The American Bar Association has called for a nationwide moratorium on executions, citing a three-year study of state death-penalty systems that found unfairness and other flaws.
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Immigration and the Law
Over and over in the Old Testament, we are admonished to be kind to "the widow, the orphan, and alien." In the New Testament Christ admonishes us to welcome the stranger: "When I was a stranger you took me in…whatever you do for the least of these brothers of mine, so also you do for me."
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Repairers of the Breach, Restorers of Paths
In the late 1970s, I was a not-yet-30-year-old pastor with four or five years of grassroots ordained experience under my belt. I was serving a congregation of fewer than 50 members in south-central Los Angeles, in a converted restaurant located in a community whose racial makeup was rapidly transitioning. Whites had long since made their flight from the economically declining neighborhood to points westward, seeking enclaves of homogeneity.
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Where Have All the Prophets Gone?
There have never been many of them, but every now and then God manages to refresh the earth in general and the faith community in particular with the presence and the preaching of a prophet. I am not referring to some soothsayer who claims to be able to predict the future.
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A Place for Jesus in the Church?
A Web-based group calling themselves TopVerse.com recently conducted a survey asking Christians to identify their favorite verses. The reason for the survey was to speed up an online search feature offered at the site.
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Anti-Abortion Activist Says California Wildfires God's Judgment for Homosexuality
A controversial anti-abortion activist says California wildfires are God's judgment on a new anti-discrimination law that some conservative Christians say promotes homosexuality in public schools.
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White House Seeks to Reduce Program Providing Energy Assistance to the Poor
Two weeks after President Bush vetoed a children's health insurance bill claiming he wants to put poor children first, the White House is threatening to veto legislation to boost funding for a program that helps low-income families pay their heating bills.
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Too Much Pluribus, Not Enough Unum
I feel so cliche coming home from a visit to Germany with scores of pictures of the magnificent kirches, churches, at the center of every hamlet and city across Deutschland.
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SBC Leader Labels Mormonism 'Fourth Abrahamic Faith'
Southern Baptist Convention leader Richard Land called Mormonism "the fourth Abrahamic faith" in a discussion of controversy over Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's religious affiliation.
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Limbaugh Blames Environmentalists for California Fires
The law may describe acts of natural disaster beyond human control as "acts of God," but that isn't stopping finger pointing from the right and left for wildfires whipping across Southern California fanned by Santa Ana winds.
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Separation of Church, Government Good for Both
One of the most frustrating things I encounter as a minister is the realization that many if not most Christian people do not appreciate the idea of a separation of church and government. In fact, not only do they not appreciate the idea, many vehemently oppose the notion. Which is terribly troubling because separation is a good thing--for the church and the government.
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Huckabee, Romney Top Straw Polls for 'Values Voters'
Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee was the overwhelming favorite in a straw poll taken on site at Friday and Saturday's Washington values voter summit, but Internet voting by supporters of Mitt Romney made the former Massachusetts governor the official winner.
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Does Fred Thompson Worship at the Church of Civil Religion?
Fred Thompson exemplifies civil religion--religion that honors the nonspecific idea of the little "g" God and requires nothing more than a nod in political speeches. Civil religion is the opposite of authentic religion.
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Presidential Candidates Risk Spiritual Smack Downs When Visiting Baptist Leader
Unless presidential candidates want a spiritual smack down, they should avoid talking to Southern Baptist Convention president Frank Page, who failed to retain the pastoral confidentiality of two conversations and then boasted to other pastors about his soul-winning ways. In both cases, Page elevated his own evangelistic credentials and degraded the spiritual character of candidates.
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House Sustains Veto of Children's Insurance Bill
Faith leaders called Thursday's House of Representatives vote upholding President Bush's veto of a children's health insurance bill a defeat for America's children and win for tobacco.
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Presidential Contenders Scramble to Get God Right
When it comes to the desired degree of religiosity in presidential candidates, most voters are like Goldilocks tasting bowls of porridge: Not too hot, not too cold, but just right.
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European Baptist Leader Urges Support for Imprisoned Baptist Pastor in Azerbaijan
A European Baptist leader renewed calls to pressure Azerbaijan to release an imprisoned Baptist minister after a court rejected an appeal of his two-year prison sentence Oct. 3.
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SBC President Says He Offered to Pray with Giuliani to Accept Christ
The president of the Southern Baptist Convention says he offered to pray with Rudy Giuliani to accept Christ as his savior, but the Republican presidential candidate declined.
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Who's On Jesus' Side in Mississippi?
His momma read him Bible stories at bed time and rocked him to sleep singing the old hymn "In the Garden." He gave his life to Christ at age 8 and walked where Jesus did at age 9. Thirty-years later, he stood on the banks of the Jordan River as three of his own sons professed faith and were baptized. His wife's name is Angel. He is pro-life, pro-prayer, pro-Bible literacy and pro-guns. He's a Southern Baptist running for office.
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Huckabee Says Christian Right Leaders Value Power More Than Principle
Heading into a major forum this weekend for "values voters," Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee complained that some Christian leaders haven't endorsed him because they "are more intoxicated with power than principle."
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Bush Wants Money for Iraq, but not America's Children
President Bush recently demanded another $189 billion to extend his occupation of Iraq for another year--even as he stripped low-income children of their healthcare. The cost of funding an expanded State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP, pronounced s-chip) is only $12 billion per year, less than a tenth the money he wants for Iraq.
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Oral Roberts University, Hagee, Seek Influence Beyond the Church
Recent allegations against Oral Roberts University raise larger issues concerning the influence the university has around the nation.
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Southern Baptist Leader Attacks Gore, Says Christians Should Save Souls, Not the Earth
The environment is a second-tier concern for Christians--in part because the Bible teaches that the world is coming to an end, anyway--and the church's top priority is saving souls, according to a Southern Baptist Convention leader.
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Democratic Christian Congressman Says Humility Lacking in 'Values' Debate
The politics of polarization employed by the Religious Right is both ineffective and unbiblical, a Democratic congressman said in a panel discussion of the proper relationship between faith and politics earlier this week.
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Campolo Says Hillary Clinton Stronger Candidate Than Bill
An American Baptist minister and spiritual adviser to President Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal says Hillary Clinton is an even stronger presidential candidate than her husband.
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Reaching Young People At All Costs?
Having served as a pastor now for over 30 years, I have seen every sort of outreach gimmick you can imagine. Churches have been willing to do almost anything to get people into church, especially young people.
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Gore Becomes Third Baptist to Win Nobel Peace Prize
Al Gore became the third Baptist to win the Nobel Peace Prize, joining Jimmy Carter in 2002 and Martin Luther King in 1964.
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Help Save a Sinking SCHIP
I pay attention when the Gospels show Jesus' anger. In addition to a few confrontations with religious hardliners, there are only a few other notable episodes.
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What Should Churches Do About Immigration?
Let's face it: Global migrations in the 21st century will not disappear just because of wishful thinking.
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In First GOP Presidential Debate, Thompson Defends U.S. Iraq Policy
Rookie Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson said Tuesday he doesn't think he waited too long to enter the race.
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Advancing Peace as Divided Lebanese Christians Stockpile Weapons for War
Lebanese Christians are divided with factions stockpiling weapons and preparing for a civil war, according to a New York Times article last week.
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SCHIP Veto a Moral Issue, Congressman Says at Screening of 'Golden Rule Politics'
An Alabama congressman said Monday that President Bush's veto last week of a children's health insurance bill is a moral issue.
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Baptists Hold Key to Overriding Veto on Health Insurance Bill for Children
Baptists hold one of the keys to overriding President Bush's veto last week of a bipartisan bill that would provide health insurance to millions of low-income children.
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Another Anniversary: Six Years of War in Afghanistan
Six years ago, Sunday, Oct. 7, was the day we buried my wife's mother in the old cemetery in Farmersville, Texas. Following the burial services the family gathered for a late afternoon lunch. It was a time of remembering a fine lady and the best mother-in-law anyone could ask for.
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Faith Leaders Denounce Veto of Children's Insurance Program
Religious leaders expressed disappointment after President Bush on Tuesday carried out his threat to veto legislation to provide health insurance for 10 million American children.
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A War For Oil
From the very beginning of the war in Iraq, faith leaders, and others, have raised concerns that the conflict did not meet the criteria for a "just war." Just-war theory has been taking shape for centuries. In its present form there are a minimum of five conditions to be met in order for an armed conflict to be considered "just."
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Guidelines for the Political 'Crazy Season'
What's a Christian to do during the political "crazy season"--i.e. the race for the presidency of the United States? When asked, I usually answer in terms of what a Christian should and should not do.
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Blackwater Head Disavows 'Mercenary' Label
A private security contractor at the center of a congressional probe of alleged war profiteering and misconduct objected to characterizations of his business as a "Republican" company that employs "mercenaries."
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Cookies, College, Career and Creation
I have been saddened with all the discussion of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary's homemaking degree. It seems such a waste of energy and resources that have once more distracted Baptists from the mission of Christ Jesus--to be the hands, voice, and presence of God in a needy world.
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Christian Ethicist Says Churches Need Own 'Immigration Reform'
An ethics professor says all Christians in the United States are "guest workers" with an allegiance to God that supersedes national or political loyalties.
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McCain Says He Isn't a Baptist
GOP presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain said in a Web interview last week that he misspoke when he said recently he is "an active member" of a Southern Baptist church in Arizona and has been for years.
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Southern Baptists Push Immigration Reform
On Sept. 16, Latino church groups demonstrated in front of the Georgia state Capitol against the failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform, and against the provisions of Georgia's Senate Bill 529.
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Is Atheism On The Increase?
According to a recent article in the "Washington Post," atheism is on the rise in America. Margaret Downey, president of the Atheist Alliance International, reports that her organization's membership has doubled in the last year. She also reports that the Alliance's annual convention already has a 500-person waiting list.
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The Role of Religion in Politics
I was privileged recently to participate in a project sponsored by the Baptist Center for Ethics. The BCE folks pulled together six ministers and four politicians, along with some other interested parties, and encouraged them to talk about "the rightful role of religion in politics." The result is a 36-minute DVD entitled "Golden Rule Politics."
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Praying For The Lottery
This past week the multi-state MegaMillions lottery reached $330 million. On Saturday morning, there were four winners. One of them, Elwood "Bunky" Bartlett of Nottingham, Md., believes his good fortune was the result of prayer.
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When We Pray For Our Enemies, What Do We Say?
One of the most difficult things Jesus ever said was "love your enemies." And he didn't stop there. Jesus also said "pray for those who persecute you," and then you will be like God. So it would appear that Jesus wants us to pray for our enemies because that is what God does.
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Christianity and Capitalism
The only history we have of earliest Christianity is found in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles. Written by the same person who wrote the Gospel of Luke, the book of Acts opens with Jesus' ascension and concludes with Paul's arrival in Rome. The book ends up being mostly about Paul, but several chapters are devoted to the first followers and their life in Jerusalem.
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The Virtue of Tolerance
Simple toleration of someone or some idea is not the ideal expressed in our founding documents. In America we don't promote tolerance among religions; we practice "religious freedom."
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Fear and Trembling Among the Faithful
I've never met Brent Beasley, senior pastor at Second Baptist Church in Memphis, Tenn., but I have become a huge fan. In a recent column at Ethicsdaily.com, Beasley asks the question, "Why are Christians so prone to fear?"
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Praying For Rain
Alabama, along with several other places in the country, is suffering through one of the worst droughts in decades. Agribusiness, whether it takes the form of cattle or produce, is dependent on water. And agribusiness is big business in Alabama.
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The Offense of Fantasy
With seven bestsellers in the series, and five blockbuster movies, like it or not, Harry Potter is here to stay. And there are those who are not happy about that. Many Christian parents and church leaders fear that Harry's popularity promotes witchcraft and paganism among young people.
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What Would Jesus Do?
The language of my faith is replete with appeals for believers to "be faithful to Jesus." Other words include "faithful follower," "loyal disciple" and "let Jesus be Lord of your life."
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Who Would Jesus Stone?
A tragedy of biblical proportions occurred in Iran this past week, according to an Associated Press report. A man convicted of adultery was stoned to death in a village in the northern part of the country.A tragedy of biblical proportions occurred in Iran this past week, according to an Associated Press report. A man convicted of adultery was stoned to death in a village in the northern part of the country.
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From Faith Comes Certainty
A thoughtful piece on President Bush's present state of mind caught my attention this past week. Written by Peter Baker, a staff writer at the Washington Post, the title asserts "a president besieged and isolated, yet at ease."
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Born on the Fourth of July
This coming week we celebrate the 231st anniversary of the founding of our nation. All across our land there will be fireworks and parades commemorating our successful fight to free ourselves from British rule. And it is absolutely fitting and proper that we should remember our national story. I just wish we remembered it better, and more of it.
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A Political Shift for Southern Baptists?
For the past three decades Southern Baptists have been, for the most part, faithful political conservatives. Like other believers on the religious right, culture-war issues have made them reliable supporters of the Republican Party. This party loyalty has been especially evident during the annual Southern Baptist Convention. Visits and calls from sitting presidents have become routine. President Bush beamed in this year via satellite.
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Has America Become an Empire?
Has America become an Empire? With the demise of the old Soviet Union, America certainly exists as the only remaining super power in the world. And that is a unique place to be, uncharted waters in many ways. For nearly our entire history we have either been underdogs who bravely faced up to super powers, or were one among others. Now, we stand alone.
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Apology for Slavery Just a Step
The decision by the Alabama Legislature to pass a resolution apologizing for our state's role in slavery has provoked mixed responses. Some hail it as a step forward in healing a wound from our troubled past. Others see the move as too little to late. Still others want to know why we are apologizing for something someone else did wrong.
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Jurassic Park Meets Noah's Ark
A new museum in Petersburg, Ky., is attempting to bring together faith and science in an interesting way. Calling their endeavor "Creation Museum," promoters hope to use the museum to celebrate God as creator--which is a good thing.
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The Gift Of Memory
We were fortunate some years back to be in Washington D.C. when the United States Holocaust Museum opened. We stood in line for hours to get tickets, and hours more to get in. Hundreds and hundreds of people were there to see and remember.
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Jerry Falwell's Legacy--A Politicized Faith
The death of Jerry Falwell marks a significant milestone in one of the most interesting periods in American Christian history. Falwell was the result of a particular social and religious evolution that greatly impacted faith in America. He also lived long enough to actually contribute to that evolution.
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What Preachers Will or Won't Say
A new book by a Baptist minister is sure to stir debate among Christians of every stripe. According to Oliver "Buzz" Thomas, author of the book, there are "10 things your minister wants to tell you, but can't because he needs his job." By the way, that's the title.
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Fear, Arrogance and Ignorance
There is a wonderful scene in the movie "Bull Durham" in which a seasoned catcher is trying to mature an impetuous though talented young pitcher. The catcher says, "You've got to play this game with fear and arrogance." Trying to deliberately yank the chain of his mentor the pitcher replies, "Right, fear and ignorance."
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In Violence We Trust
The tragic shooting at Virginia Tech has left us numb. It is difficult to understand how such a horrific event could take place with no apparent meaning behind it.
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An Emerging Christianity
Christians may believe that they are participants in a "faith once delivered to the saints," but the shape of that faith has varied greatly through the centuries. From the stately and ornate forms of Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism, to the humble and plain worship of the Amish, Jesus is followed and revered in a myriad of ways. In fact, so great is the diversity of forms within Christianity, it may be more appropriate to refer to them in the plural--Christianities.
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The Bible, Science and Homosexuality
For some time now a contentious battle over homosexuality has raged in our country. The war has been fought primarily on three fronts: religion, politics, and science. Religion and politics are by far the most volatile, and the most destructive. Some of the language used by segments of the faith community to wage their part of the war comes very close to dehumanizing gays and lesbians.
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Let the People Decide
The minister who mentored me used to say, "Jim, don't be afraid to trust the people."
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The Moral Dilemma of Homelessness
It is a familiar scene. You are walking along a busy sidewalk when suddenly a shabbily dressed man or woman approaches and asks for any loose change. What do you do? We have all been told that any money we give goes for drugs or alcohol. We are also told that giving them money only encourages their begging behaviors ensuring they will never seek honest work.
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Resurrection in the Present Tense
The first time I met Carl he was dying of cancer. At least, that's what everyone told me.
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The Sermon on the Mount, American Style
The Sermon on the Mount is regarded by most Christians as the heart of Jesus' teaching. Unfortunately, what Jesus has to say there has not been overwhelmingly embraced by much of the Christian community in America. Perhaps it is time to update the sermon so that it is more in line with American culture. Maybe something like this:
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The Values Of The Values Voter
A new Associated Press-Ipsos poll is yielding important information that will likely have great significance for the so-called "values voter," and those organizations that promote values voting.
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Putting God In A Box
Just when you thought it was safe to go out and enjoy a religious holiday again, two filmmakers come along claiming to have found the tomb of Jesus. This latest effort at Christian-baiting may not rise to the level of the annual battle over saying "Merry Christmas," but that won't keep the moviemakers or Christian advocacy groups that will rise to defend the faith from making a lot of money from it.
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A Faithful Response to the War
Here's what we know. First, our reasons for going to war in Iraq were almost entirely based on fabrications and fantasies. There were no weapons of mass destruction, there was no connection between Saddam Hussein and the 9/11 attacks, and there was no threat of Iraq acquiring nuclear weapons.
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A Pound And A Half of Flesh
In Alabama, if you are convicted of a felony and sent to prison, not only do you lose your freedom for the duration of your sentence, but you also lose your citizenship--even after you have served your term. In Alabama, and a few other states, even after you have served your term and are released from prison, you still can't vote.
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The Cult of Celebrity
The way the old joke goes, eventually everyone gets 15 minutes of fame. For Anna Nicole Smith, she got a bit more than 15 minutes, though some of it has followed her to the grave.
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Science, Faith and Politics
From Africa comes a story of an interesting convergence of science, faith and politics. The national museum in Kenya is planning to display what is known as Turkana Boy--the skeletal remains of a young male who lived during the Pleistocene age--roughly 1.6 million years ago. It is hailed by scientists as one of the world's most famous and important fossil discoveries. Turkana Boy represents the most complete skeleton of a prehistoric human ever found.
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Onward Christian Warmongers
A faith-based group calling itself "Christians Reviving America's Values," or CRAVE, is concerned about the way the war in Iraq is being fought. As a Christian group we might think they are alarmed by the level of violence. Or maybe they are worried about the use of weaponry that unintentionally, yet inevitably injures and kills civilians. Or maybe, in the spirit of many Christian leaders over the centuries, they believe that war itself represents a failure of Christian ideals.
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Building a Big Baptist Tent
The word "Baptist," and especially Southern Baptist, is for many a synonym for Republican politics. Many Baptist leaders such as Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, have enjoyed unparalleled access to the White House and the ear of the president. They have played a key role in setting the conservative political agenda, and have been instrumental in keeping Republicans in power.
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Peace Or Trouble Maker?
Since leaving office in 1981, Jimmy Carter has been by far our most active former president. His efforts through the Carter Center to help fledgling democracies, and his support of poverty initiatives and other humanitarian concerns helped him win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.
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In Memory Of Martin Luther King
In his elegant little book, "Finally Comes the Poet," Walter Brueggemann writes that the task of the preacher is to be "a voice that shatters settled reality and evokes new possibilities."
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The Power of a Pardon
The recent death of Gerald R. Ford, the 38th president of the United States, has given us an opportunity to reflect on his presidency and on the circumstances that brought him to office in the first place.
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Hopes And Prayers For The New Year
The New Year has become a time for us to gather up our hopes and prayers for the coming year and express them in resolutions. The idea of "New" seems to lay out the prospect for something different, something better. I confess to being a resolution maker.
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Christmas in the South
Christmas in the South is unlike Christmas anywhere else in America. While obviously there are many common factors that show up in Christmas festivities nationwide, there are features of a southern Christmas celebration which are truly unique.
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The Spirituality of Congress
We may enjoy some level of separation of church and state in this country, but there hardly exists anywhere a separation of faith from public office. There is spiritual vitality in virtually every branch of government. From President Bush's heart-warming Methodism, all the way to the disciplined Catholicism of Justices Alito, Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas and Roberts, faith and government are linked arm in arm.
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How Many Christians Does It Take To Make A Coalition?
In July of this year, the Christian Coalition of America elected Florida megachurch pastor Joel C. Hunter to serve as the group's new president. He was slated to take over the job from Roberta Combs who will continue to serve as chair of the Coalition's board of directors. Hunter's appointment was made public in October and he was to begin serving in January.
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Bacon Eaters And Greedy Gossips
North Carolina Baptists, meeting in their annual convention a few weeks ago, changed the way they determine membership for churches in their convention. In addition to things like believing in God, Jesus and the Bible, North Carolina Baptists also added a statement about homosexuality. Any church that affirms a homosexual lifestyle cannot be a member of the convention. And if already a member, the convention has the right to expel an offending church.
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A Modest Christmas Proposal
With Thanksgiving Day behind us, we now enter the Christmas season at full gallop. Of course, Christmas has been peeking out here and there since Halloween, but now it's official. It's all here--the shopping, the lights, the traffic, the music and the controversy. Controversy? Yes, sadly it's true.
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An Open Letter to the Governor of Alabama
Dear Gov. Riley: Congratulations on your re-election. Your 58 percent margin is the largest since 1982, when Alabama governor races started being competitive. For my part, I'm glad you won. You have demonstrated understanding about the needs of the poor in our state and have taken significant steps to address their needs.
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Scientists Come Out Swinging and Praying
One of the bad things about war is that it is almost impossible to wage one without demonizing the opposition. This is true in actual wars where people get killed, and it's true in wars of words where people just get insulted.
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Unnecessary Divisions in the Body of Christ
With mid-term elections just a day away, every political action group in America is working full throttle to get out the vote for their candidate, party and favorite issue. Not least among these politically active are members of the Christian community--from the left and the right.
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The Last Temptation of the Church
A new book out claims the Bush administration has used its unique and highly visible connections to conservative evangelicals merely for political gain.
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Communities of Faith Must Speak
We have reached a critical and increasingly tragic crossroads in the war with Iraq. We know now that there was no real justification for launching the war in the first place. Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction, as apparently many people in the government and the military knew before hand. And there was no connection between Iraq and the Sept. 11 attacks.
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Murder in a One-Room School House
Nothing captures America's sense of longing for a simpler time quite like the idea of a one-room school house. That is at least part of the reason why the horror that took place this past week at an Amish school in Pennsylvania was so devastating. The murder of children is reason enough for grief and anger. But for the assault to take place in a setting seen by many as the embodiment of a time of innocence now past, creates in us an acute sense of loss.
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The Do's And Don'ts Of Church Politics
With midterm elections just around the corner, political activity is rumbling towards a resounding crescendo. Included among this political chorale are voices from various elements of the faith community. The political hymn singing of faith groups has become one of the mainstays of the political season.
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Marks Of An Authentic Church
Jesus said that we would be known by our love. Lately though, we people of faith, Christians in particular, are better known for our politics.
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Can Baptists Save The World?
Is it possible that Southern Baptists could be the key to saving the world? E. O. Wilson seems to think so. Wilson, in case you don't know, is an Alabama native and former Southern Baptist layman. He is now one of foremost experts in the field of entomology. He is also the creator of his own sub-discipline in biological research known as sociobiology. And apparently he believes Southern Baptists can help save the world.
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The Lasting Effects of September 11

At the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, it is hard not to ask "What is different now?" Other than the obvious changes brought about by increased airport security, daily "alert updates," and wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, has anything really changed?

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On Jesus And Keeping The Rules
For over two weeks now, Elvira Arellano, has taken shelter in a United Methodist Church in Chicago. Arellano sought sanctuary in the church when she learned that Federal officials planned to deport her back to Mexico. She has lived illegally in the United States for over seven years.
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Christian Coalition: A Question Of Integrity
You can always tell when it's election time in Alabama. The red, white, and blue "vote for me" signs start popping up along the highways. Television ads with their mind numbing "I am more conservative than my opponent" mantra start hitting the airways. And the Christian Coalition mails out their candidate surveys.
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Staying On Message With Jesus
A group calling themselves Conservative Christians of Alabama was recently encouraged by their leader to "intimidate" the city council of Huntsville. That word, "intimidate," is the word they used.
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Left Behind Or Led Astray?
Let's define success. The Left Behind series, written by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins has now sold over 60 million copies. There are 11 sequels to the original novel, and three prequels. The series has also spawned a children's series with nearly 40 different titles.
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The Right And Left Hand Of God
For some time now, groups like the Christian Coalition, Focus on the Family, the American Family Association, the Family Research Council, have served as a conduit for funneling a particular political agenda into the hearts and minds of many Christians.
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The Left Hand Of God
"The unholy alliance of the political Right and Religious Right threatens to destroy the America we love. It also threatens to generate a popular revulsion against God and religion by identifying them with militarism, ecological irresponsibility, fundamentalist antagonism to science and rational thought, and insensitivity to the needs of the poor and the powerless."
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The End Of Faith
Sam Harris, philosopher and doctoral student in the field of neuroscience, has written a devastating book about faith--devastating, that is, to faith.
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The Voice of Faith Necessary in Social Issues
Christian groups in America have a long history of political activism. The issues may change from one generation to the next, but the impulse to reform society seems a constant feature of faith.
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Faith Versus Science, The Latest Chapter
Ever since Copernicus proposed that the earth was not the center of the universe, people of faith have been at odds with people of science. Whether true or not, the story of Galileo challenging the church's official position that the earth was the center illustrates the conflict dramatically.
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Faith Versus Science, The Latest Chapter
Ever since Copernicus proposed that the earth was not the center of the universe, people of faith have been at odds with people of science. Whether true or not, the story of Galileo challenging the church's official position that the earth was the center illustrates the conflict dramatically.
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The View From The Sidelines
Years ago, priest and writer Henri Nouwen was serving as chaplain on a Dutch cruise ship making its way to Rotterdam. They were in a thick fog. Everyone was edgy and nervous as the ship crept along virtually blind in the water. The captain was pacing back and forth, anxiously trying to get through the fog without slamming into anything.
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Vote For Jesus
The primaries are now over and the main races are set for November. Marriage is also safe. With the Marriage Protection amendment to the Alabama state constitution, marriages in our state are now secure from the ravages of the so-called "gay agenda." We haven't figured out yet how to save marriage from what actually threatens marriage—I guess that will require yet another amendment in some future campaign.
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A Christ-Haunted Culture
Southern literary icon, Flannery O'Connor once said: "By and large, people in the South still conceive of humanity in theological terms. While the South is hardly Christ-centered, it is most certainly Christ-haunted."
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Forgive Us Our Debts

"The rich rule over the poor and the borrower is servant to the lender." Anyone who has ever been in debt has experienced the truth of this biblical proverb. And let's be honest with each other--debt is something we know about.

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Parental Guidance And Matters Of Faith
In what is becoming the latest clash between fundamentalist Christianity and the rest of the world, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) recently assigned a PG rating to an explicitly Christian film. The movie, "Facing the Giants," is the story of a football team with a losing record that suddenly gets turned around and starts winning when the coach finds God.
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The Protection of Marriage
I am not usually given to making predictions about future events, but I feel fairly safe with this one: There will never be an amendment to the U.S. Constitution defining what marriage is supposed to look like.
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The Gift Of Memory
We were fortunate some years back to be in Washington D.C. when the United States Holocaust Museum opened. We stood in line for hours to get tickets, and hours more to get in. Hundreds and hundreds of people were there to see and remember.
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Fact, Fiction And Faith
With the movie version of Dan Brown's novel "The DaVinci Code" about to debut, all the anxiety that accompanied the book's success is back. Of course, we must account for the success, and the fact is, it's a pretty good mystery action story. But that is not all there is to it. Helping to fuel record sales and fuel the controversy is the book's unique plot. The story is carried along on the back of a particular interpretation of Christian history.
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The Ups And Downs Of Mothers' Day
This Sunday churches around the country will incorporate into their services of worship some sort of recognition of the role of motherhood. In fact, so powerful is the emotional pull of this holiday that even some congregations that closely follow the liturgy of the church year will be forced to at least offer a passing nod to the office of Mom.
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Misusing Jesus' Name
I am tempted to file a defamation of character lawsuit on behalf of Jesus. I wish Jesus would do it himself, but I know he won't. He would much prefer that we win people over to his viewpoint by preaching his word and following his example. And that's fine as far as it goes.
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Believing or Not Believing the Bible
We are in the midst of the Easter season. Christians everywhere continue to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. We have heard the Gospel stories about the crucifixion and the empty tomb and continue to hear with gladness words like, "Death has been swallowed up in victory."
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Faithful Support For Public Education
Public education has been under assault for some time now from segments of the Christian community. That's why it is all the more amazing to learn that a Baptist entity has decided that instead of attacking public schools and undermining the morale of teachers and administrators, why not affirm the work of those who teach our children, and ask God to bless their efforts.
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The Meaning of Easter
Listening to the many Easter sermons that will likely be preached this Sunday, a person might get the idea that the central question surrounding the resurrection of Jesus is whether or not it actually happened. Preachers across the land will dwell at length on the significance of the empty tomb and how its vacancy proves that Jesus was raised from the dead. The goal, of course, is to change the minds of those who doubt. For with doubt removed, faith will be born—at least that's the hope.
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Budgets and Taxes as Moral Issues
In his best-selling book "God's Politics," Jim Wallis argues that governmental budgets and tax policies are moral issues. The reason why? Because the way communities raise revenue, normally in the form of taxes, and how that money is spent in the form of programs and services, affect people's lives. That means budgets have moral consequences. The moral standard for Wallis, of course, is the biblical vision of economic justice.
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The Politics Of Jesus
Nearly every week I hear from readers with the complaint that I am writing politics under the guise of religious commentary. It's a fair observation though I am almost tempted to say, "Yeah, but the other guy started it!"
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The Children of Abraham
The ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine stands as one of the most difficult, and most deadly, political conundrums we face as the human community. At every corner peace is stymied by tightly held absolutes. Israel absolutely devoted to defending itself against all incursions—no matter what. Palestine absolutely determined to take back land they claim was stolen from them—at any cost. The clash of these absolutes has left both sides bloody.
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Is America Ready For A Mormon President?
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, also known as the Mormon Church, is America's own home grown religion. Founded in 1830 by Joseph Smith, the Mormon movement began by embracing all that was already present in the American religious experience via Christianity.
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Lent Is a Time for Restoring Authentic Faith
For millions of Christians this past week marked the beginning of our most Holy season--Easter. We start with Ash Wednesday, a day devoted to recalling God's embrace of our humanity. Many believers wear the mark of the cross, made with ash and oil, as a reminder of just how costly God's grace has been. We hear the words as the ash is applied, "Remember, you are dust."
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Going To The Whip
Laura Hildebrand, author of the award winning book about the legendary, Seabiscuit, has emerged as an outspoken critic of the riding crop or "whip," when used to enhance race horse performance.
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If It's Broken, Then Let's Really Fix It
Gov. Bob Riley deserves a lot of credit for trying to do something about Alabama's grossly unfair income tax structure. The fact that we begin assessing income tax on a family of four that earns as little as $4,600 is a tragedy. So the governor's desire to fix it is admirable. Unfortunately in fixing one thing there is danger he is going to break something else—public education.
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Who Would Burn a Church and Why
Once again churches are being burned in Alabama. Nine so far, but with great fear that there will be more. We've seen this before in the 1990's, rural churches, mostly African-American congregations, torched and left in ruins.
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Memories of a Great Soul
I was fortunate this past week to have been in a meeting with Gardner Taylor, pastor emeritus of Brooklyn's Concord Baptist Church. For nearly 50 years, this eloquent and wise minister guided a diverse congregation through some of the most tumultuous times our nation has endured.
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'The Left Hand Of God'
"The unholy alliance of the political Right and Religious Right threatens to destroy the America we love. It also threatens to generate a popular revulsion against God and religion by identifying them with militarism, ecological irresponsibility, fundamentalist antagonism to science and rational thought, and insensitivity to the needs of the poor and the powerless."
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If or When the Wall Comes Down
The confirmation of Judge Samuel Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court seems a virtual certainty. Even if Senate Democrats stage a filibuster, which at this point seems unlikely, they cannot ultimately stop the confirmation.
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Christians Are Not a Persecuted Minority
Nothing has become more tiresome in recent years than the incessant claim by many conservative Christians that they are being persecuted. Every time a church/state issue comes to the fore, a gaggle of Christian activists show up preening in front of television cameras and whining about the war on Christianity. It's a plot, they tell us, perpetrated by the ACLU and God-haters everywhere, to remove any sign of Christianity from culture.
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The Battle for the Bible
In the week before Christmas a federal appeals court delivered the folks of Mercer County, Ky., a dubious present. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a display of the Ten Commandments featured in the county courthouse since 2001 could remain—it did not violate the U.S. Constitution.
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Hope for the New Year